Friday, June 12, 2009

Last day of the AMSE science camp

We made it through camp without a thunderstorm today! :) There was an interesting moth on the black light sheet this morning. It had markings on its wings that looked like white sunglasses! It also had strange humps. I'm working on an ID on, as soon as I get one, I'll post it. There are often many fascinating critters on the sheet each morning. We turn the light on before we leave each evening and are often surprised at what has come to it overnight.

On the last day of the AMSE science camp each year we take the kids to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) for tours of 3 different facilities. One of their favorite activities is to see the robots at the Robotics lab. The engineers give talks and demonstrations on the different types of robots. Later each camper is given the opportunity to write with the mechanical "hot-cell hands" and a drive robotic chair.

We also went to the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences where we learned about how carbon nanotubes are made, saw clean rooms where the workers had to be covered from head to toe in white disposable suits and a super-cooled tank where the temperatures can be dropped to nearly absolute zero! Our last stop was the Aquatics Building at the Environmental Sciences Division (a.k.a ESD, Oak Ridge has acronyms for nearly everything!). Here we got to see the artificial stream tanks and large tanks containg fish and turtles (right).

After lunch at the ORNL cafeteria, we headed to the stream at the back side of the UT Arboretum to do our Stream Ecology class. The 3" of rain the past 2 days really had the stream gushing, so it was much harder to find the critters this time! But we still managed to rustle up a few crawdads, salamander larvae, stonefly nymphs, a huge cranefly larva, water striders, aquatic sowbugs and a few scuds (sideswimmers).

It was a busy, but fun week. I think the kids learned a lot! Here's a shot of the whole group at the ORNL pond bridge after lunch.

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