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Westwood campers conduct ‘Top Secret’ experiments

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By Laura Drinan
Hometown Weekly Reporter

Westwood’s elementary and middle school students expanded their math and science skills this summer through the Recreation Department with Top Secret Science, a program focusing on hands-on STEM activities. The weeklong program gave the participants dozens of opportunities to explore the different branches of STEM, but the program overall emphasized the importance of fun when it comes to learning. On one day of the program, children examined their own fingerprints, made a pink sand-like material, and created jelly worms all before lunchtime.

 Kids at the Top Secret Science camp examine their fingerprints to see which kinds of prints they have.  Photos by Laura Drinan.

Kids at the Top Secret Science camp examine their fingerprints to see which kinds of prints they have. Photos by Laura Drinan.

Instructors Alison, Khai, and Robbie facilitated the program by demonstrating each experiment and guided the children as they conducted them. The instructors’ knowledge of science also helped to explain the purpose and results of each demonstration. As Alison squeezed a bottle of blue liquid, which she called “goo,” into a cup of water, she explained that the children were seeing a chemical reaction occur instantaneously before them. The blue liquid partially solidified to make slimy worms for the children to hold and play with. “It feels like it’s a snake crawling on me,” commented one junior scientist as she placed the “worm” on her arm.

One experiment featured instant snow powder and water mixed with pink food coloring. Once the children poured the liquid over the powder, it immediately turned into a sand-like material that overflowed in the cup. The children could then pick it up and play with it. “It kind of feels like sand, but it’s softer than sand,” said one girl, who examined the bizarre substance. The instructors passed around small plastic bags so that the young scientists could take home their instant snow concoctions.

The children also used an ink pad and paper to do their own fingerprints, after which they examined the patterns of their prints. Alison, Khai, and Robbie helped each child identify whether their fingerprints had whorls, arches, loops, or combinations of the three. The science campers were able to bring home their fingerprint papers and keep their unique prints.

While many of the experiments can easily be done at home, the Top Secret Science camp brought STEM-enthusiastic children together to socialize and conduct the experiments and demonstrations with each other, proving to all that science, technology, engineering, and math can be entertaining and enjoyable.

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