Lowell-Designcamp, hosted by UMass Lowell's Francis College of Engineering in July, is a fun and exciting science and engineering camp for students in middle school and high school. Eleven different weeklong programs engage kids in the real work of scientists and engineers as they design, experiment, tinker and invent.
"Designcamp is a totally hands-on experience," says director Douglas Prime, himself a former middle school teacher. "Kids get to think of their own ideas and build their own way-cool inventions."
Prime reports that nearly three quarters of the camp sessions are already filled and others are filling fast.
"But some of our brand-new and most interesting workshops do have openings," says Prime, who encourages students and parents to check the website at www.designcamp.org for the status of openings.
Architect's Studio is new this year, for students completing grades 7-9. Campers create their dream house with a 3-D planner, build a scale model, meet working architects, go on a walking tour-and take home their own drafting board and drawing tools.
Designing for Spaceship Earth, grades 6-8, is a freewheeling exploration of earth-friendly technologies. Campers build a geodesic dome, a solar cooker, an aquaculture tank, a hydroponic garden and products from recycled materials. One session is girls only.
In Electronics and Music, grades 8-10, students make "awesome" stuff-their own audio speakers, their own electric guitar or keyboard, along with filtering circuits to shape the sounds.
Kinetic Sculpture, grades 7-9, is a unique blend of art, science and technology as students learn metalworking to create large moving sculptures powered by wind or water. One session is girls only.
Sea-Mobiles, for grades 8-10, is also new this year, and taught by a former Coast Guard engineer. Students will build model boat hulls for tow tank testing, an air boat to race across the pool, and a remotely-operated model submarine out of PVC pipes to run an underwater obstacle course.
Only in its fourth year this summer, Designcamp has grown from 55 students to more than 400, with many returning for a second year and a new, different workshop.
"These are challenging and creative programs with great projects," says Prime. "The kids are so engaged, they tell us the day feels like only two hours long."
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