Exploding colas, colorful Legos, bubbling lava
Cola shot high into the air Friday afternoon as students frantically scurried away from erupting soda bottles.
Messy as it appeared on the outside, the sticky situation in front the Davidson County Community College Conference Center was only part of the innovation going on inside.
DCCC is holding its second annual Big Brain Camp for rising first, second and third graders from across Davidson County. Centered around STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) curriculum, Big Brain Camp gives students a week full of mind-stimulating, hands-on activities that at times create quite the mess.
"We focus a lot on STEM in everything we do," said Andrea Packer, a DCCC instructor who developed the Big Brain curriculum. "We integrate science, technology, engineering and math into every activity, even if the kids don't know it.
Some 35 children will take part in the camp over two weeks. Students are selected to the weeklong camp on a first come, first serve basis, and include children who are home schooled. The goal of the camp is to expose children to STEM curriculum with hopes they develop an interest in these subjects as they progress through school.
Activities are created to help young students get more comfortable with complex subjects such as cohesion, friction and surface tension.
"We do lot's of science experiments and we're very hands-on," Packer said. "Every single activity I do they get to do in some capacity."
On Friday, the first group of students got to show off what they've learned to their parents, who toured several stations of various activities. Stacey Woodruff, a 7-year-old Southwood Elementary School student, had a grand time demonstrating the "Bed of Nails" experiment to his dad, Tracy Woodruff.
"You get to put the balloons under the nails and push the board down on it," Stacey Woodruff said. "The balloon either pops or it doesn't. I like it when the balloon pops."
Tracy said his son comes home every day ready to talk about what he learned at the camp.
"It's exciting for him" said Tracy Woodruff. "He likes anything with loud noises and he enjoys putting things together. We like it because he's very excited about it.'
One of the feature attractions of the week is the Legos. Students spend part of every day working with legos, developing different robotics intended to stimulate problem-solving skills.
"There are 12 different things they can make with the Legos," Packer said. "They kids really enjoy every part of the day but the Legos is a key part."
Other activities include "Sparks in the Dark,” “Bubbling Lava Lamp," and “Glowing Tonic Water."
"In 15 to 20 years, the economy will offer many more opportunities for individuals who are competent in STEM disciplines," said Missy West, coordinator of the DCCC Conference Center and Community Engagement. "We want our students to take with them a new perspective that allows them to see STEM at work in the world they encounter each day. We hope this inspires them to pursue educational and training opportunities that will provide vital skills for the technology-driven job market they'll enter."
Staff Writer Eliot Duke can be reached at 888-3578, or firstname.lastname@example.org.