Have Science, Will Travel: Trip Day Session 2
Yesterday, we packed our bags, loaded eight different buses, and hit the road for our session 2 trip day! Each bus headed for a different location in the morning, as campers got a chance to experience the real world implications of the subjects they are exploring in their workshops. After an exciting morning of tagliot (discoveries) in our workshop groups, many of which visited brand new locations, we re-connected at the Museum of Science, Boston. Campers explored the museum in small groups, getting the chance to handle real organs, peer at tarantulas, and play with magnetic liquids. You can read more about each of the awesome workshop trips below:
Digital Film Production was thrilled to return to the MIT museum! Every camper found something there that interested them, whether it was the incredible hologram exhibit, the moving sculptures, or the strobe photography. There were film and media related exhibits as well as new technologies, art, and projects that were just plain cool. We even saw an old (really old) Polaroid camera that was still in use! DFP kids really loved the chance to spend some more time together and strenghten their k’sharim (connections) with one another.
This session, Earth & Sky visited the Weston Observatory, a seismic monitoring station run by Boston College. Our guide, Tom, showed us around the entire station, including their earthquake archive dating back to 1930 and their six remaining analog seismometers (most are now digital!). They even let us into a room with some of the digital seismometers, and we got to create our own earthquake by jumping next to the platform!
Web and Graphic Design boarded the bus and headed down the highway for a visit to Google Cambridge. We spent an hour touring the facility and seeing where the magic happens. We were amazed at the open work spaces (including a roof top garden), as well as the conference rooms and breakout areas. In addition, we marveled at the all of the (free) food services Googlers enjoy, along with the recreation options available during breaks. We met with three Googlers who described what their jobs were like, and answered all of the excellent questions our campers posed.
The Video Game Design workshop visited the headquarters of Turbine/WB, a leading developer of online games based on fantasy- and superhero-themed fiction. Starting out with a guided tour through their production studio, we saw designers, artists, and engineers at work on a variety of game projects. We also chatted with support staff who maintain already-released MMORPGs (massively multiplayer online role playing games), like Dungeons and Dragons Online and Lord of the Rings Online. We made a brief rest stop in the company’s cafe-style “Chill Zone”, where campers had the opportunity to take selfies with cool displays and props. Next, Turbine’s technical-art director gave us a fascinating demo of how complex 3D game assets (such as dragons and catapults) are created with advanced digital-modeling tools. During the Q&A that concluded the visit, one of the most popular questions was “How can I get a job here?”
The BioZone workshop visited the national research headquarters for Novartis pharmaceuticals corporation in Cambridge, MA. We heard about Novartis research efforts, the areas of research that they work on and how much time, money and effort it takes to bring new drugs into the market. We then used a community lab in their newest building, and learned how to isolate human DNA from a sample of human cells, using their standard equipment such as micropipettes, heat-block, vortex and micro-centrifuge. We then learned how gel electrophoresis is used to separate DNA of different sizes and how to analyze a gel electrophoresis image to detect a nucleotide difference in the bitter tasting PTC receptor. Campers learned about biomedical and drug-discovery research and had a feel of what it’s like to work in a real lab, with all the safety gear that it requires.
Forensics workshop students enjoyed visiting the University of Massachusetts Lowell Forensic Chemistry lab yesterday. They met with Professor Chow and a number of his lab assistants to learn about the basics of forensic chemistry. They learned about fingerprints and how although their fingerprints are made of nearly 99% water, the 1%-the amino acids and lipids- are the parts that help fingerprint analysts lift prints from a crime scene. The students tried lifting fingerprints off non-porous materials with fingerprinting dust and used the chemical ninhydrin to lift their whole hand print off of a piece of paper. The children received a free t-shirt and USB drive from the chemistry department.
Programming and Coding was fortunate to visit and tour Rue La La’s Boston office this trip day. Rue La La is a company that sells high end merchandise during flash sales, and we met the people who maintain their servers and website to make that happen. They even allowed us to look at some of their code! We gained an appreciation for how many people and how many lines of code are necessary for their operation. Campers learned about Rue La La’s business model, and were even able to witness a photo shoot! Campers had an opportunity to ask questions to a panel of employees from different departments. We appreciated their great hospitality!
The Robotics Workshop’s first stop was at Boston University where we met with FIRST Team 246, Overclocked. FIRST Team 246 is a high school robotics team that works out of the BU Engineering School. We got a tour of their workshop and saw Team 246’s robot from this past season’s competition. Campers asked tons of questions about how the team solved their problems and strategized when preparing for competitions. The campers all left fascinated and ready to get back to building their own robots. Many campers were even inspired with new ideas to implement on their projects back at camp. Everyone had a great time!