Speeding down the ramp with the wind blowing fast, Brett Cox’s car overturned.
The reason? Too much tape.
Cox and other kids ages 8-12 have taken part in a magnetic levitation camp in the Trident Technical College’s Kids’ College, a program of summer camps ranging from video game design to culinary training.
“Every activity is preceded by a little lecture about what they’re about to do,” said Meghan Fisher, the class instructor.
Equipped with pieces of cardboard, tiny magnets, tape and a popsicle stick, the kids work to build sail cars to glide down a magnetic track. With repelling magnets facing each other on the track, the sail car glides along with the push of a tiny electric fan.
“The very first day we teach them about magnets, and then they want to go right to the cars,” Fisher said.
Precision was everything for these young racers, as a smidgen of extra tape could tip the car in one direction and flip it.
“We’ve got to make sure it’s balanced,” Fisher instructed the class as they made adjustments to their sail cars. “That’s the tricky part.”
Michele Shinn, director of personal enrichment and special projects at Trident Tech, loved the fact that young boys weren’t the only ones who were in the engineering camp.
“It’s really great to see so many little girls involved in the camp,” Shinn said. “They’re probably our future scientists. They know so much.”
When the campers’ car designs fall flat, Fisher encourages them to continue making corrections to their blueprints.
“That’s just like any part of the scientific process,” she said.
Fisher has the group sit down in the front of the room to compare designs, seeing how cooperation can improve their work.
“We hear so few things about children interested in learning. We always hear about kids having trouble,” Shinn said. “The kids that are here want to be here and have fun.”
In Hollywood, kids are shaking things up to find “fossils” buried in the sand.
April Geary, instructor of the archaeology camp, said the favorite part for the campers is the digging.
“(The fossil work) has been the biggest hit, but the volcano will be the biggest one,” Geary said.
Learning about fossils and astronomy is what keeps Amarion Bright, 10, interested in science for when she gets older.
Her favorite science subject is “learning about the planets like Mercury, Venus and Mars,” especially after Pluto became a dwarf planet.
A different group of kids pored over DNA evidence in a crime scene investigation camp.
“We’re going to use the evidence to incriminate them or exonerate them,” Kristen Combs, the CSI instructor, told the class.
While waiting for blood samples to react to the analysis serums, the campers ventured into the next room, where a crime scene was marked off for investigation. Cold drink cans, black paint, a hairbrush and footprints — of a person and a pet — are scattered across a white sheet near the victim’s outline.
The mass interest in forensics, Mount Pleasant campus Dean Mike Patterson said, exploded after the show “CSI” came on the market.
“It was a buzzword. It went crazy,” he said. “(The kids) love this though. They’ve been having a blast.”
Eliza Marsh, a 10-year-old camper, and her table of fellow forensic investigators explain it can only be one of three people, as the blood samples of the fictional suspects becomes clear or clumped. The list of possible culprits is narrowed down after the analysis of the handwritten ransom note, the fingerprints on the window and the motives of all that had a chance to commit the crime.
Combs hopes the kids, especially the girls, continue to stay interested in the hard sciences.
The reason she decided to become a teacher? “Just keeping kids interested in math and science,” Combs said.
Reach Nick Watson at 937-4810.
Nicholas Watson/Staff Amarion Bright sifts through the “fossils” she and her group have unearthed in an archaeological camp Friday.×
Nicholas Watson/Staff Lexy Mitchell, Tristan Koch and Amarion Bright (from left to right) look through their tub to find “fossils” in an archaeological camp Friday.×
Anton Mitchell (from left), Kenan Bonaparte and Faith Brown dust off pieces of dinosaur “fossils” in an archaeological camp Friday.×
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