Thirty-two students from Cuba Middle School, Lybrook Middle School, and Lindrith Area Heritage School spent a week of their summer vacation at Science Summer Day Camp. The theme of this year’s Science Summer Day Camp was Air, Earth, Fire, and Water. The camp, which was held at Cuba Middle School, was a result of the partnering efforts of dedicated teachers, community members, and the Science Education Partnership Award (SEPA) team, which is housed at the University of New Mexico’s Prevention Research Center (UNM PRC). SEPA is funded by a grant from the National Institutes of Health. SEPA camp was hosted by the Cuba schools and the following teachers: Kate Bagby and Daniel Delgado of Cuba High School; Joseph Brondo and Daisy Cortez of Cuba Middle School; and Darlene Chiquito of Lybrook Middle School. The camp was facilitated by SEPA team members Ashlee Begaye, Quirin Martine, Marcos Martinez, Alejandro Ortega, and Kathryn Peters.
Students began the week by learning about the science of air. Ms. Bagby taught students how sound travels through air by leading them through the process of making their own bull-roarers. Bull-roarers are ancient noise makers found throughout cultures. In Navajo, a bull-roarer is known as tsin di'ni, or “groaning stick”. Mr. Brondo led students in making and launching bottle rockets, through which students learned about the scientific concepts of air pressure and force. Ms. Cortez led the students to make their own dry ice smoke ring launcher. Through their smoke ring launchers, students learned about the three states of matter (solid, liquid, and gas) and how matter transitions between states.
On Tuesday, students learned about the science of earth. During a hike on the Fisher Trail in Cubita, students recorded their observations of the many facets of life dependent on the earth. Back at Cuba Middle School, students conducted a lab experiment under the supervision of Ms. Denise Thompson, an educator with Explora Science Center and Children’s Museum. The experiment tested the behavior of soaps and detergents when they interact with different substances. Students then tested a solution made from yucca root to determine whether yucca root behaved more like a soap or a detergent.
Students learned about the science of fire on Wednesday. James Casaus, Isaiah Eichwald, Lowell Gassman, and Matthew Pena of the United States Forest Service, Cuba Ranger District visited camp. Students learned about the fire triangle, fire management, and careers with the Forest Service. Ms. Begaye taught about food energy by instructing students to conduct a lab burning different foods using over a calorimeter and Mr. Delgado led the students to create colorful flames by burning different types of salts.
On Thursday, students learned about the science of water. Ms. Emma Eckert of the Fractal Foundation taught the students about fractals, or never-ending patterns in nature. The students then created their own colorful model of mountains and rivers, which turned out to be in a fractal-like pattern. Students also took a field trip to the Village of Cuba Wastewater Treatment Plant. At the plant, students learned that flushing a toilet isn’t as simple as it might seem and were able to use a microscope to see water bears, a microscopic organism that breaks down and removes nutrients from the wastewater.
Overall, the students learned that science is all around us, not something that is practiced only by people in white lab coats. In fact, it is a way of thinking that is done every day. The many interesting careers in science include those in health care, engineering, and the outdoors.
Be sure to thank the family, teachers, and community members who supported these youth with their time, energy, enthusiasm, and ideas! They are definitely making a difference in the lives of youth in Cuba, Lindrith, Lybrook, and Ojo Encino.