Thursday, August 15, 2013

MHC After 3 Engineering Challenge

During a week-long exploration with VMNH educators, campers from the Bassett Community Center, Fieldale-Collinsville Middle School and the Fieldale Community Center investigated several areas of engineering (biomedical, package, mechanical, and civil) through hands-on, interactive challenges. At the end of the summer, students presented their designs to their peers and family members at VMNH.

Students salute the American flag as their fruit package is lowered from a tree branch.

Students proudly display their robot arm designed to pick up an empty cup.

Preparing to test a car made from everyday items designed to protect a raw egg.

Student preparing to test his group's balloon helmet.

Testing the number of weights their spaghetti bridge can support.
Testing a candy elevator made from string and two pencils.

Student evaluates his group's package design to protect a single potato chip by stacking three books on top of the package.

Students were challenged to stack three golf balls on top of each other.  It's harder than you think!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall afterschool programming is underway at VMNH and middle school students are busily testing myths! Loosely based on the popular tv show, MythBusters, students are challenged to design ways to test commonly held ideas.  Students worked with a partner to write out their procedure and design experiments to test each myth.
Tested myths include:
1. When dropped, a piece of bread will always land peanut butter side down.

2. Which has the most germs? Students were asked to list the area in their location with the most amount of germs (i.e. the gym floor). Based on their answer, students swabbed that particular area with q tips and then swabbed agar plates to observe the bacteria/mold that was generated. The agar plates germinated for several days and students were able to view their results.  Students tested the gym floor, toilet, urinal, telephone, restroom sink and restroom floor.  The telephone was the winner! (Gross!!)

Student collecting bacteria from a toilet.

Students swabbing their agar plates.

Two students testing to see if the peanut butter side of a piece of toast will always land peanut butter side down.

Friday, July 27, 2012

MHC After 3 campers investigated science and engineering concepts with VMNH educators this summer. Camps were held at the group's site or off-site at a local state park. The camps were designed based on student input gathered during the spring semester.

 In the Projectile Science camp, campers explored the engineering design process and Newton's 1st and 3rd laws of motion through several design challenges using common household items.  Students designed and constructed marshmallow launchers, medieval counterweight trebuchets, and balloon rockets to explore the forces that affect projectiles.

In the Food Engineering and Package Design camp, participants investigated food science engineering by creating ice cream and granola.  Campers explored several examples of packaging and were challenged to design the best package to store their food products.  Each package was tested to discover the most effective design.

The Trail Design camp explored the process and effects of erosion through designing trails with erosion prevention in mind.  In teams, they designed small model trails, tested whether they were "erosion proof" and then redesigned the model to reduce erosion.  They evaluated the hiking trails at Fairy Stone State Park to examine trail design and evidence of erosion.  They also explored the effects of erosion on water bodies, including a stream and lake.  Finally, they worked together to repair existing trails using erosion prevention methods. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

VMNH concluded the Spring '12 semester with a watershed education program designed to raise awareness of the Earth's most valuable natural resource, water.  Each afterschool site received programming that explored how we negatively and positively affect our watershed and how those choices not only influences the organisms that live in the water but will eventually affect us in the immediate and long-term future.  Also, VMNH partnered with the Dan River Basin Association (DRBA) to show students examples of macroinvertebrates (organisms that lack an internal skeleton and are large enough to be seen with the naked eye) that are used to determine the health of water. The semester culminated with students designing a storm drain stencil to convey the importance of water pollution prevention.

Students design their ideal community and discover that we all contribute to water pollution in some way and discover best management practices to reduce pollution.

Students explore the rate at which water absorbs and flows on different surfaces to investigate runoff.  Students tested three different surfaces:  pavement, mulch, and gravel.

Wayne Kirkpatrick, a DRBA volunteer, shows examples and explains the importance of macroinvertebrates.

Student designing a stencil slogan.

Friday, December 30, 2011

VMNH educators had a wonderful time working with our afterschool partners this year! With the support of the LEGO Children's Fund, we provided science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) programming to over 500 students over the course of two semesters!!

Take a look at some of our delightfully fun experiences. Enjoy!

Exploring the properties of water - mixing water and soap.

Measuring a bubble tower with a ruler.

Investigating the interaction of water and antacid tablets.

Anticipating launching our antacid tablet bottle rockets!

Designing our layout before building a rainforest tree.

Working together to build the tallest tree we can imagine!

Combining our trees to discover the layers of the tropical rainforest.

Designing the perfect parachute that will travel to the ground at the slowest time.

Displaying the finished product!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What a Drag!

Fieldale Community Center participants were challenged to use several common materials such as coffee filters, tissue paper, and straws to design and build a parachute that would drop a toy to the ground at the slowest possible rate. Also, participants discovered the importance of drag (a force that counters gravity) and how it affects landing time.

Next, we discussed different shapes of parachutes. Then, they sketched their designs and were given 10 minutes to construct the parachute.

After testing the parachutes, participants were asked to change one aspect of their parachute that would increase the landing time.

An example of the final product!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Adventures with Edventures

Fieldale Community Center participants explored mechanical engineering and the engineering design process through building with LEGOs. Over the course of four days, students investigated simple machines and discovered how simple machines make life easier.

Searching for simple machines in a cartoon.

Concentrating to build the perfect brick flipper (also known a lever).

After completing the brick flipper, the students were challenged to modify the lever to launch a Lego the farthest possible distance.

Building an inclined plane.

Making last minute changes to a cart and cart launcher before the race begins!