Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Energy Camp

Last week I worked at PSU's first Science-U Energy Crew Summer Camp (aka Energy Camp).

It was five days of energy topics/activities/tours for students entering grades 5-8. I knew going into it that it would require lots and LOTS of energy, so I made sure to get extra sleep the weekend before it started (which definitely helped). I could tell you about the whole week, but I'll just touch on some highlights. If you don't want to read the highlights :) then at least check out some of the photos from the week here.

We went on a tour of the Nuclear Reactor on campus, which I've never even been to (totally surprising since it's literally feet from my office building!). What a cool place! They did some background stuff for the campers about the purpose of the facility and also about how it works. Then they took us to where the reactor's housed and let us watch it as they "pulsed" it. We got to see the distinct blue glow that occurs as a result of the pulse, which I hear is something that many people don't get to see first hand. I REALLY liked that tour.

We got to see PSU's house that's being built for the Solar Decathlon, which many of the campers enjoyed. One of the students working on the site gave us a great tour, and he explained all of the energy efficient aspects of the house including some of the special technologies that PSU's installing that other schools participating in the competition are not. Several of the campers had great questions, and I think they could have spent days at the site if time allowed.

The students also shot, edited, and presented, their own videos of public service announcements advertising different energy options. These videos were so good...I'll post a link to them when I have it. They had some really creative ideas on presenting the material, and they are so smart! I believe that the future looks good :)

We did a lot of hands on activities (e.g., lemon batteries, solar cars, fuel cell cars, making ethanol, etc.), which I think the students enjoyed. I'm sure, though, that their most favorite part of camp was eating in the Pollock dining commons, going to the outdoor pool, and going to the creamery :)

Two other cool things about the camp were that there was a journalist and videographer at almost every activity so that the campers would have some documentation/video of their camp experience. Each morning the journalist had a newsletter that was designed to look like a newspaper that highlighted the events from the previous day. The videographer also made a great video (to be linked soon) that chronicled their entire week...I think the campers and parents really enjoyed that.

I think the camp was a success for the first time it was ever run! If you are interested...here are some photos from the week: Energy Camp Photos


  1. yay!!!! very cool! i'm envious! glad you had a great time - the campers are lucky to have had the opportunity to learn from you!!!

  2. Nice post. It's wonderful you got to see the pulsing of the reactor.