2017 Science Camp – Solar, Wind, Water Energy

The Nestucca Science Summer Camp (NSSC) led the discovery of energy flow in our 2017 program. Approximately 55 students, first through sixth grade, attended the NSSC, now in its 5th year.  All students used and observed working models of solar, wind, and water energy.  They were able to convert these energy forms into electrical and mechanical energy.  The NSSC is a collaboration between the Nestucca Valley School District and the non profit Nestucca Valley Community Alliance.  The program is free to all students, including snacks and meals.

The goal of the NSSC is to provide academic and social support to the students of Nestucca. Every day at the camp, students enjoy delicious and nutritious snacks and a lunch. Our menu is curated from student feedback and made with several items from local food providers and produce from the Nestucca School Garden. A cornerstone of the NSSC program is the interaction of students with food and nutrition education.

Experiential learning and place based education supplement our curriculum development based on Science Technology Engineering Arts (STEAM) and Next Generation Cross Cutting science standards.

This year’s camp schedule was 3 weeks long, with half days from 8-12 Monday thru Thursday. Thursdays were devoted to hands-on scientific experiments consistent with the energy flow theme. The experiments provided teachers-in-training with experience in planning and instructing hands on scientific lessons. Each year the program culminates in a field trip to a local natural resource site; this year we visited Netarts Bay.

We are currently gathering data to asses the NSSC programs impact on attendees’ quarterly reading scores during the subsequent academic year.  Factors in analysis of this data will include students socioeconomic background, individual behaviors, and students perspectives regarding learning scientific curriculum.

To view standardized curriculum and food  menus contact Program Coordinator Johanna Wood at johanna@nutrek.co


Week 1: Solar Energy

During the solar energy unit students used basic engineering, art and design skills to create a one-of-a-kind solar fountain. Students learned the fundamental aspects of a solar panel and understand how placement and orientation affect its power output. Students were able to use the scientific method to isolate and adjust variables affecting the solar powered fountain.

In the solar scavenger hunt students learned how to use a multimeter to measure voltage and amperage in order to collect data. Students developed team building skills during the investigation and experiment process to use the scientific method to isolate and understand solar panel variables and understand basic electrical concepts and terminology.

Students worked in teams to design and construct a cork boat with a propulsion or paddle system powered by solar panels. Teams tested the boat’s weight bearing capacity by adding marbles on top of their boats.

Week 2: Wind Energy 

Students designed and built a functional sail car that moved as far as possible in the wind (or in this scenario a large fan!). The sail car demonstrated how sails capture energy from the wind and transfer it into usable energy to propel the sail car forward. The scientific method was used to isolate and adjust variables that will impact the distance a sail car can travel. Students competed in groups to measure which sail car traveled the furthest.                                                                                     

Students learned the fundamental components of a windmill by constructed a functional windmill that lifts weights. They learned about energy conversions/transfers and how a windmill converts moving air into usable mechanical energy. We used the scientific method to adjust variables and increase the efficiency of each model windmill. 

Week 3: Hydro Energy and Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery Field Trip

The classes visited Whiskey Creek Fish Hatchery where they observed the Netarts Bay tidal movement and water flows in the bay.  Students learned the importance of water flow and local waterway habitats by studying salmon life cycles and restoration ecology. Students used binoculars to observe the wildlife of Netarts Bay, fed the rainbow trout, and measured air and water temperature of the salmon spawning tanks. To conclude the field trip, we ate our lunch on the patio of the Schooner restaurant.