Trip to camp stirs their minds

Mar. 27, 2013 @ 06:25 PM

Twenty-two students from Vance and Warren counties are spending their spring break studying science in a joint Science, Technology, Engineering and Math day camp.

Hosted by Vance and Warren County Cooperative Extension 4-H programs, the camp began Monday and will end today.

“Lots of hands-on activities will be done throughout the week,” said Pam Jones, Vance County 4-H agent.

On Wednesday, students used solar cells and miniature motors to build solar cars, and created flashlights with Altoid mint cans.

Donavan Boyd, a fourth-grade student from Northside Elementary, explained how flashlights were made using a small soldering pin.

“We took these two wires and then twisted it around, and then we did the other one just like it,” Boyd said. “We are connecting the resisters to the LED lights by soldering it together. It goes to 700 to 800 degrees. It looks like a curling iron.”

Kits for building solar cars were provided through a grant from Duke University and NASA.

“North Carolina 4-H received it and we agents were invited to come if we were interested for training,” Jones said. “We went and engineers from Duke and representatives from NASA trained us on how to use them, and we were given the kit for free. It’s very expensive.”

In an attempt to race their cars after building them, students took them outside to soak up sunlight. They quickly discovered solar cells attached to the car had not harnessed enough sunlight to create energy.

“You have to let the solar cell sit in the sunlight to get energy,” said Amber Null, a fourth-grade student at Vance Charter. “Then you clip this motor thing and it should work.

“But, we didn’t’ have enough sunlight.”

Fourth-grade student Jackson Hopper from Zeb Vance Elementary was familiar with solar cells and how they work.

“I did a science project on this where I made a model of a solar cell,” Hopper said. “A solar cell is a battery and it has to sit in the sun for a long time. A solar panel, it has to be outside while it’s working.”

Prior to assembling their projects on Wednesday, students visited the N.C. Biofuels Center based in Oxford. The campus is a partnership project with the N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Hopper recalled information he learned while touring the facility.

“It’s the only biofuels center in the USA, and we had a presentation there,” Hopper said. “We’re really lucky to have it in North Carolina.”

Students learned how to create ethanol while at the biofuels center, the nation’s only agency working comprehensively over time for all aspects of biofuels development.

“Today, I really liked when we went to the biofuels center,” said Maci Hawks, a fifth-grader from Zeb Vance Elementary. “We got to make ethanol.

“I had to weigh out the 40 grams of sugar, then another person had to weigh out the water.”

Hawks and other students continued to explain that yeast acted as a catalyst in the project, creating carbon dioxide, which then inflated a balloon.

As students participated in hands-on activities throughout the week they gained knowledge while also having fun and meeting new students.

“My grandma told us that we were going to do the camp,” said Dehne Boyd, sixth-grade student at Warren County Middle School. “I thought I wasn’t going to like it, but then when I came, I knew it was going to be super fun.

“Since tomorrow is the last day, I’m going to be super sad.”

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