Words by Connie Leonard

Teaching students to problem solve and think outside the box through hands-on engagement unleashes the creativity of the scientists, engineers, doctors, and problem solvers of the future.

Summer gives students a break from their regular routine, it’s a great time to allow their creativity to soar. Rather than spending the summer in boredom, give your students the opportunity to cultivate their curiosity. Teaching students to problem solve and think outside the box through hands-on engagement unleashes the creativity of the scientists, engineers, doctors, and problem solvers of the future.

Judy Gentry, Director of Career and Technical Education for GISD, said, “We are excited to continue to offer summer camps for elementary and middle school students. The camps are an extension of some of the creative activities our students get to do in our Career and Technical Education programs. The camps are an extension of our classes and provide a small glimpse of what students can expect during the school year. Students will work collaboratively in groups, have some time to build relationships and experience team building, as well as get to know our incredible staff at Granbury High School. We strongly believe that summer camps and visits to our campus help facilitate a foundation in the content, yet provide the student an opportunity to get to know our staff and work alongside our GHS students. Hanging out with high school students is a highlight for the younger students and it’s a great way for our high school students to model good behavior and exciting ways to learn. I encourage families to enroll your student in one or more of our camps this summer and keep your student actively engaged in learning throughout the summer.”  

The aerospace camp, for incoming 6th through 8th graders, will be held June 11-14, from 9:00-3:30, with Mark Kirk as instructor. The cost of the camp is $90.00, with a maximum of 25 students. A limited number of scholarships are available. The camp will consist of basic principles of flight and will travel through paper airplanes, drones and rockets, as well as going on a field trip to Tarrant County Community College in order to see an example of collegiate aviation and to fly in their simulators.

The students will begin the week by investigating the forces of flight and aerodynamics. They will have fun through a series of competitions with paper airplanes and an obstacle course for the various types of paper airplanes and their configurations. The students will debrief at the end of the day about what worked and what didn’t with each design.

Next students will learn about Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. They will discuss the do’s and don’ts of drone operation; the variety of applications for drone usage (personal, recreation, hobby, sport, racing, competition, photography, videography, commercial applications, governmental, military, etc.). The drones will be set up so students can try to maneuver them through an obstacle course. 

The students will also learn about space travel and why it’s different than aviation (airplanes). They will experience the excitement of building and launching paper rockets.

The last day, students will take a field trip to TCCC. While there, they will get to see how TCCC can prepare students for careers as pilots, aircraft mechanics, and air traffic controllers. The students will view a variety of helicopters, airplanes, and will fly in a flight simulator.

The Gateway to Technology Camp for incoming 6th through 8th graders, held July 9-12, from 9-3, will led by Brad Eppler and Todd Gibson, assisted by F1 in Schools and Engineering students, at a cost of $90. The camp will cover wind energy, thermal energy and its effects on environment, bridge building (weight to strength ratios, stress/strain), rockets and propulsion.

Students will begin by creating a wind machine that turns wind energy into mechanical energy using various types of fan blades. Employing scientific method, students determine optimum blade numbers, angle, length and size. Machines are tested using a fan to determine the total lifting power in Newtons of their apparatus. Some setups will power a light while others will power a pump to move water from one tank to another.

Next, students will create a Penguin Habitat. Penguins (ice cubes) must be insulated from solar, thermal, and radiant energy so they may survive. Students use various insulators and reflectors to sustain the “penguins” habitat for the longest time possible. Students will have to stay within a budget when purchasing materials for insulating the habitat. Materials may include cotton balls, tissue paper, foil, Mylar paper, foam and more. Once the habitats are built, the penguin ice cube will be placed inside where a heat lamp will be applied for a set amount of time. The ice cubes will be weighed before and after the heat is applied. The best habitats will allow the ice cube to retain most of its mass.

Moving on to physics, students will use spaghetti and a controlled amount of hot glue to construct a spaghetti bridge to withstand maximum amounts of force. Students will use bridge designer software to explore topics such as trusses, super structure and sub structure. Each bridge will be tested to failure for competition. Certain criteria will have to be met in order to meet the design requirements. The best bridge will be the one that meets all design requirements and has the best cost to weight ratio.

Culminating with math, students will construct a rocket made from two-liter bottles, card board, cardstock, paper towel rolls and hot glue. Topics discovered will include: center of drag, coefficient of drag, center of gravity, scientific method, geometric constraints, shapes and measurement, balanced and unbalanced forces, pressure of a fluid, Boyle’s Law, Charles’s Law, thrust and velocity. Students launch their rocket outside, everybody gets wet and has a great time! Lots of math and science are involved in this activity.

Other potential activities, if time allows, may include: Delta Darts or other type of plane, White Wings, normal or oversized skimmers, egg drop, Tower of Power, ice cream—shake, toss, knead— and dragsters.

Robotics camps will be held from 9-3:30 on July 9-12 for elementary students and July 16-19 for middle school students. Both Camps will be taught by Angela Jumper, who teaches Principles of Technology and Programming (utilizing Robotics) at GHS. Robotics is an exciting way to prepare today’s students for tomorrow’s challenges. Robotics classes and competitions are a popular trend around the state.

The robotics camps will include learning to code three different robots (ozobots, finches, and EV3’s) while they prepare for an end-of-camp competition that will be modeled after the competitions students may participate in as they grow through the GISD program. They will also be programming some virtual robots, games, aps and many leadership and teambuilding activities just for fun. Campers will be led by the High School Robotics Team on a 1:10 base. The primary goal is to increase the interest in robotics and computer science in students and develop a passion for the industry.

Granbury Aerospace Camps provide an exciting, enjoyable way for students to soar to new heights in active learning during the summer.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” ― Leonardo da Vinci