Energy, Water and Food
The Nestucca Valley Elementary School sponsored the 2016 Summer Science Camp with the Nestucca Valley Community Alliance (NVCA) held July 11th through July 28th . This was the 4th year for the summer program and 45 students attended. The theme for this year’s camp was Wellness focusing on how Energy, Water and Food are important to our health. NVCA members and other volunteers led activity sessions every Thursday following the themes. Nestucca Valley Elementary School (NVES) teachers emphasized each respective theme on the Monday through Wednesday of each week leading up to the Thursday activity day.
The first week focused on Energy. Students learned that active muscles demand energy and the energy is delivered by eating the right food and drinking good water. Attendees got to measure their pulse while learning about the cardiac muscle and other muscle types used in the body. During the cardiovascular station students tried to transfer cups of water as quickly as their heartbeat, which averages 70 beats per minute. The students discussed the role of arteries and the importance of blood circulation, as well as the pulse rates of other animals. In the reaction and decision station students played a game to identify stimulus and calculate the mean reaction time of the group. Students also individually tested the speed of their reaction time by dropping and catching rulers labeled by different colors. At the muscle station, each student got to measure his or her hand gripping force and finger pinching force. Right and left hand measurements were taken and a discussion of why there could be differences in strength between the two hands of each person were part of the exercise. In the diet and energy station students learned how long their large intestines are and how their body processes nutrients, such as starch.
In the second week students learned the importance of the many functions Water has on the body. How the body loses heat from muscle use was an activity in the 2nd week. The more muscle activity, the more heat is generated. Our internal organs operate in a narrow temperature range so the body produces sweat to help evaporation and loss of heat from the skin surfaces. Standing or sitting in front of a fan also helps to lose heat. Students learned that sweat is not just water but also contains electrolytes and wastes as the body excretes these during sweating. One demonstration the high school interns supervised was making artificial sweat (salt and cold water) and placed them under heat lamps. At the end of the session the students could see that the water had evaporated and left salt residue just as it does on our skin.
How we can get water from foods in addition to swallowing liquid was reviewed and demonstrated. Exercises also demonstrated how we get nutrients from foods. In the water filtration station students tested their hypothesis about how to clean water by constructing miniature water filtration devices. In the water in foods station students learned how to dehydrate fruits with low and high water content. Students tasted fresh apples, pears, and strawberries and then tasted the freshly dehydrated versions of the same fruits to learn that water makes up a significant volume of most fruits and vegetables. In the sugar in my beverage station students measured the grams of sugar found in popular beverages such as Gatorade, Capri sun, and Mountain Dew. Students learned how to make a healthy beverage alternative called sun tea using fresh mint and lemon balm from the garden.
The third week the students focused on Food and made a field trip to Corvus Landing Farm. On a farm tour students learned about bio-dynamic methods of crop planting and companion planting. They harvested and ate fresh carrots and gourmet salads greens such as spicy mustard, bokchoy, and tatsoi. Students learned that chickens serve a valuable role at Corvus Landing, not only providing eggs but catching insects, and helping to expose the soil by scratching and fertilize the soil to grow vegetables. The entire summer camp played a team building tag game in a field by the creek before enjoying their lunch.
All lunches were made by farmer and chef Sandy Porter. At the beginning of camp students were provided a survey of lunch choices. A custom menu was prepared based on this feedback and ingredients from the Nestucca school garden were incorporated into every meal.
All in all, the science camp was a success. Many thanks to Misty Wharton and Johanna Wood in organizing this event. Also, a big thank you to Paul Carlson, Gene Johnson, Richard Potempa and Kimberly Miller, volunteers from NVCA, who worked with Misty and Johanna in making this year’s science camp a success.
Are you interested in promoting this type of educational opportunity in South Tillamook County? Volunteer today to help with the 2017 Science Camp or make a contribution to the NVCA Education Program.