Session 3 Trip Day Explorations
Sci-Tech took over the labs and studios of Boston as our workshops split up and explored sites related to the topics they have been learning about this session. Following each unique workshop visit, we rejoined our friends from other workshops at the Museum of Science, where we enjoyed an educational and fun afternoon of exploring! Check out highlights from each of our workshop trips below:
Digital Film Production – Digital Film Production had an amazing time with PortMedia, the production branch of the Newburyport Community Media Hub. The community-focused studio gave our kids hand on experience in four fields of production: broadcast radio, animation, live studio production, and storytelling. The broadcast radio station gave campers a shot at the microphone, recording and playing back the radio station ID and short talk show snippets. Animation included an opportunity to create a stop motion animation using pro software and flip books. The live studio shoot consisted of two parts, acting on a green screen and the control booth where camera switching, keying, and transitions take place. Finally, at the storytelling station, campers learned about the components of a good story, the production process, character development, and MOST importantly discussed the constitution, freedoms of press and speech, and why it’s so important to the work we do. As a give away, they even got pocket constitutions. Every camper traveled through each station, learned a ton, and had a blast in the process!
Biozone – Biozone had a wonderful visit with LabCentral, a biotech accelerator located in the center of the Cambridge pharma arena. As a non-profit, LabCentral serves small pharma and medical device start-ups as shared lab space and facilities, providing support and networking opportunities for these biotech companies. Our campers got to hear about different clinical trials, career opportunities, and the financial breakdowns of different projects that were being worked on by a variety of companies hosted at LabCentral. Campers then got a tour of the facility, which includes wet lab space, communal working areas, private labs, the cafe, and the playroom!
Robotics – The Robotics workshop went to the New England Robotics Validation and Experimentation (NERVE) Center at UMass Lowell. NERVE is a research and testing facility that works with cutting edge robots in both the public and private sectors. The campers got to meet Valkyrie, a humanoid robot designed and built by NASA as a test bed for future robotic missions to Mars. The Valkyrie robot at NERVE is one of the only four models that were ever built. Campers also got a chance to drive some all-terrain robots on the NERVE test courses and see how the skills they are learning in their workshop translate into the real world. It was a blast! We hope to come back to NERVE every single year.
Programming and Coding – The Programming & Coding workshop visited the Cambridge office of Google! Some of the things developed at the office we visited are Google Image Search, flight tracking, web answers, Android interface design, and YouTube networking. Our visit began with a tour of their offices, which are spread out over three different connected buildings. The offices on each floor were themed after places located at different MBTA-T stops, such as a hospital, airport, or hotel. We saw different facilities such as multiple kitchens and eating spaces, a coffee shop, napping pods, a library, and recreational areas with foosball, table tennis, and video games. There were also outdoor areas to sit and work, and there was even a fire poll to slide down a floor! After the tour, we heard from software engineers who worked at Google. We had the opportunity to ask questions about working at Google, what programming languages they used, and what kinds of things they’ve worked on. It was great to hear about the path they took to working at Google, Easter eggs hidden in Google products, and various jobs at Google that were not related to programming.
Earth and Sky – For third session, Earth & Sky visited the Chandra X-ray Observatory. We were treated to a tour of the facilities, including the command center, where we learned all of the daily maintenance that must be done remotely to keep the satellite up and running. The campers were really surprised to learn that the mission and satellite were only supposed to last 5 years, but just had its 18th birthday, and they’re planning at least another 10 years of observations with it! We also got to see some of the amazing discoveries made with the satellite, like imaging supernovae not visible in optical light and colliding nebulas!
Forensics – Forensics arrived at the U Mass Lowell forensic lab early this morning to hear a lecture on forensic geology. Suddenly, a teaching assistant burst into our lecture and exclaimed, “there’s been a murder in the geology library!” We ran to the scene to find a body of yet another teaching assistant surrounded by sand and footprints. We took impression castes of the footprints we found by the body and then we took a sample of the sand back to the lab. At the lab, we began using comparison microscopes to compare our sand sample to numerous known samples from beaches in the area. We decided the sand came from Plum island and matched the footprint evidence to a pair of shoes found in the trunk of a suspect found speeding around plum island. We knew we had the right suspect because upon further inspection, the shoe laces were found to have the victim’s blood on them. We solved the case!
3D Animation – The 3D animation workshop visited Black Math Studios. While at the studios, the campers were introduced to a real animation pipeline where they were captivated by the technology and the programs used to make the imagery. The campers loved it! They asked great questions and were mesmerized by all the content.
Video Game Design – The Video Game Design workshop journeyed to the lair of Demiurge Studios, a video game design and development company in Cambridge. Demiurge has created or contributed to many renowned and successful entertainment games during the past dozen years, for consoles, computers, and mobile platforms. In a slideshow presentation focusing on their long-running mobile game “Marvel Puzzle Quest”, several of their staff (including a character designer, an artist, programmers, and a QA specialist) shared insights on the processes, tools, and skills involved, along with some practical tips on how to prepare for these career paths. Our campers frequently expressed their sakranut (curiosity) and kavod (respect) through respectful questions, and discovered (taglit!) the similarities between Demiurge’s process and the one we are following in our workshop. As our visit wrapped-up, campers received a parting gift of Magic the Gathering cards, and more than one was heard wishing to get a job at Demiurge someday!
Another educational, inspirational, and most importantly FUN trip day for Sci-Tech 2017!