2022 Sky’s the Limit STEM Camp Recap

The 2022 Sky’s the Limit STEM Camp was held June 10 to July 29.

2022 Schedule

June 10: Citizen Science 101

Get your hiking boots on. Welty staff will lead students in a walking tour of the Welty Environmental Center and the beautiful landscapes of prairies, oak savannah, and wetlands in Big Hill Park.

During the tour, students will document their observations of the environment as they learn how to become a GLOBE citizen scientist through observations, measurements, and data collection.

After the tour, students will participate in a panel focused on STEM career opportunities and consider potential careers based on their unique skill sets and interests.

June 17: What’s Up, Doc?

Learn the GLOBE atmospheric protocol and how to measure location with a GPS, air temperature with a digital thermometer, surface temperature with an infrared thermometer, cloud cover and type with a cloud chart, and relative humidity with a sling psychrometer.

Students will perform the Instant Freeze Water experiment and the Cloud in a Bottle experiment to learn about the shocking phenomenon of phase changes.

June 24: Diggin’ in the Dirt

Yes, digging in the dirt is not just fun but can teach us a lot about our planet. Students will learn the GLOBE pedosphere protocol, collect soil profile samples with an auger to understand horizons and soil layer history, observe changes in soil texture and color, compare air and soil temperatures, and identify soil carbonates with vinegar.

After time in the dirt, things are going to get even messier when students perform the Mentos-Sprite-baking soda experiment to better understand carbonates.

July 1: Taking Rover for a Ride

Students will use what they learned in the prior weeks about the atmosphere and pedosphere to investigate the urban heat island effect. They will explore patterns of surface temperatures across Big Hill Park and why they vary by land cover type, by steering a remote controlled TerraRover with an installed Urban Heat Island Instrumentation Package and examining the collected observations.

Next, students can test their driving skills as they steer the TerraRover through an obstacle course. Watch out for that tree!

July 8: Plenty O’ Plants

Students will learn the GLOBE biosphere protocol and how to estimate tree height (without having to climb the tree) with a homemade clinometer, tree circumference with a string and tape measure, and plant canopy cover with a homemade densiometer (yes, using a toilet paper roll). Students will also explore allometry of both trees and our bodies and patterns of plant phenology.

Students will learn about scientific experimentation by planting marigold seeds in multiple pots and modifying the water, sunlight, pH, soil type, and fertilizer, while monitoring their growth in subsequent weeks of the camp. Whose plant will grow the best?

July 15: Duck, Duck, Goose Creek

Students will take a short hike to Goose Creek, a tributary of the Rock River, to learn about the GLOBE hydrosphere protocol and measure water quality.

After collecting water samples with a bucket, they will learn how to measure water transparency with a turbidity tube and Secchi disk, water temperature with a thermometer, electrical conductivity with an electrical conductivity meter, and water pH with a pH meter and pH paper.

Students explore the importance of water temperature through a very sudsy Bath Bomb Experiment.

July 22: Looking to the Sky

Taking Autism to the Sky, Inc. (TATTS) will lead exciting, hands-on activities at Big Hill Park, including on how drones work (yes, drones!), how to fly them, and how their imagery and video help us see the world in a new way. Everyone will get a chance to fly in the park. Then, at the base station, we will review the data collected, use an augmented reality sandbox to study the landscape, and explore sample imagery data within a GIS software called QGIS.

July 29: Looking to the Future

Students will tour different science departments at Beloit College to meet with faculty and staff, learn about these individuals’ careers, areas of interest, and potential mentors for college admissions. In addition, undergraduate science students will present their completed research projects.