Science camp introduces youth to engineering

Published 11:32 pm Saturday, June 13, 2009

CHESAPEAKE — With a pop and a swish the 2-liter plastic bottle lunged into the stratosphere. Or at least as far as the tops of the trees that surround Chesapeake High School.

Then another and another and another as the creators of those homemade rockets watched and retrieved their creations Thursday afternoon.

It was all a part of this summer’s Project Lead the Way science camp designed to gets seventh and eighth graders interested in learning more about engineering as a possible career.

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The school-year long Project Lead the Way engineering classes start in eighth grade and can continue through high school, exploring the various aspects of engineering.

For the past week 18 seventh and eighth graders at Chesapeake Middle and 10 at Rock Hill took simple design project assignments and found out being an engineer is a lot more fun than they thought.

Sheets of paper and 36 inches of masking tape were turned into the tallest and most stable towers the students could devise. Then came the acid test. Could it hold a tennis ball? Only two budding scientists succeeded.

Next they were asked to design a package that could protect an egg dropped from 12 feet. Their tools were 20 drinking straws, 15 Popsicle sticks, 30 inches of masking tape and a sheet of paper. Only one student at Chesapeake pulled it off.

But making their own rockets out of a pop bottle and a small drinking cup proved the most challenging.

“It’s exciting to see the gears starting to turn, get an idea and go with it,” said Ival Shields, one of the PLT teachers at Chesapeake.

Taylor Bane spent extra time striping the surface of her rocket making it both attractive and effective.

“This is really fun,” Bane said about the science camp. “I like to build stuff. How hard it is to make things work.”

This week Katelynn McCoy was filling in as a student assistant. But two years ago, she was introduced to the camp and made a career switch. Originally, she planned to pursue forensics; now its aeronautical engineering.

“It is hands-on and more challenging than our other classes,” McCoy said. “It makes you think harder.”