Most of our weeks of preparation prior to the start of Eureka! camp were in anticipation of this week, when we taught the DukeEngage lesson plans. Though we helped develop and teach lesson plans for the other three weeks of camp, these lessons were entirely our own, and we have been working on them since the spring semester. Therefore, I was quite nervous for this week’s STEM lessons, since their success was almost entirely dependent on us. My lesson plan was focused on the eye, and was composed of interactive lecture and two small activities. Elayne and I began by teaching about the structure of the eye. We asked them to try to draw the inner eye, and then they had to guess where the labels for each structure belonged on an accurate drawing. I was really impressed with the level of knowledge that some of the campers had about the eye, and apparently many of them had already dissected a cow eye in middle school. However, most were not thoroughly knowledgeable about how the eye actually worked (since they were only in seventh and eighth grade), so we were able to teach them about how all of the parts of the eye worked together to allow us to see, and why some people are near- or far-sighted. We also gave them a small activity in which they modeled the eye with a clear bowl of water, cardboard, black construction paper, and a flashlight to show them how images are actually projected upside-down onto the retina, and then flipped by the brain. We spent a lot of time working out this activity so it would be both cheap (in terms of the materials that we needed to buy) and feasible to perform in a classroom setting. Fortunately, the campers appeared to be really into it! The second activity we had was for the campers to build their own protective eyewear. Some groups came up with some really cute and innovative ideas: for example, one group created unicorn glasses, and another created protective eyewear for construction workers. Overall, I think the STEM classes this week were a success!
Camp this week also had elective classes in the afternoon. I chose to support the Arduino class with high school students, since I was exposed to it a bit in ECE110 a few semesters ago. Since I haven’t used Arduino at all since that class, I was a bit concerned with my ability to help the campers the first day. However, I was able to pick it up again really quickly, and was able to answer most questions! I had a lot of fun helping with the elective, and really enjoyed using Arduino in a non-academic setting. Therefore, this week I realized that I’m learning as much as the campers are even if I’m the one teaching them, and I can’t wait to see how many skills I continue to develop over the duration of camp.