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53 Fifth-Graders Attend UTSI Mad Science Camp

Fifty-three rising fifth-grade “motivated and inquisitive learners” from area schools spent a week at The University of Tennessee Space Institute exploring many aspects of science.

From 8:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m. July 17-21, the Mad Science campers tackled subjects ranging from the five senses to space, including experiments in electricity, crime scene investigations, close looks at changing states of matter, and others.

This was the second of three summer camps being held at the Space Institute for area students. First was a materials camp attended by 18 area youths, who gained first-hand experience in UTSI’s laser labs.

From July 24-Aug. 4, 16 eighth, ninth, and tenth-graders and four teachers will learn science through the use of very sophisticated computers programs. This Computation Science Camp is sponsored by UTSI’s Center for Laser Applications (CLA).

The Mad Camp youngsters came from the following Franklin County elementary schools: Broadview, (two), Clark Memorial, (six), Cowan, (four), Decherd, (nine), Good Shepherd, (four), Huntland, (two), North Lake, (two), Rock Creek, (ten), and Sewanee, (four). From Tullahoma, five came from East Lincoln, one each from Robert E. Lee and St. Paul, two from home school, and one from Murfreesboro.

Facilitators Keith Trehy and Simon Cornwell kept the students on task with activities ranging from building and launching their own rockets and creating an electric circuit to light bulbs and spin motors.

One day they built an electric car, another they experimented with dry ice and turned a nickel into a penny using electroplating, constructed a DNA kit and took fingerprints and footprints to solve a crime scene mystery. Other activities included making their own cotton candy, causing their voices to sound like robots, using deflection glasses to see a rainbow, making bouncing balls, shooting rockets.

Sponsors of the camp were UTSI and its Laser Center, Sverdrup and the ARES Corporation.

“It’s been a great week,” said Carole Thomas, Center for Laser Applications (CLA) bookkeeper and coordinator of the camp. “Parents have been telling me each morning how much their children love this camp and hope that we have future camps. This was our first attempt at a science enrichment program, and without the help of Penny Oliver, camp staffer, UTSI’s summer interns and students, it would not have gone as smoothly.”