Camp Day 3: Taking a Lead with Water kits and Bacteria

Today was day 3 of camp and my first shot at leading Team Orange to success.  In making my lesson plan with Jo Ann the night before I knew that I had a pretty full plate of activities to get through but we’ve been told over and over it’s better to over plan the day and prioritize rather than underplay. Since today was the first day at the U of R I was hoping to give the campers a tour of what was available to them during camp and to undergraduates to give them a taste for all that college has to offer.

We started the say with a science infused version of headbands which pushed the campers to expand their science equipment vocabulary which also helped us leaders to see if the campers knew the names for some of the things we planned on using with them in our data analysis.  From there we moved quickly over to Hutchinson Hall (while giving a mini campus tour) so that we could use some aquarium testing supplies to test our water samples for Nitrates, Nitrites, Ammonia, and pH.  This part was meant to work as four stations that each group of 2-3 campers would move through in 10 min increments but my timing was off (and behind) so we each only got to two stations.  However, while the breadth of analysis wasn’t as I had aimed each camper was fully engaged in the color changed and their meanings all while observing all safety rules closely.

We then walked back to LeChase the long way and gave our group a more thorough tour of campus including some myths (such as the dandelion square clock tower one, which many campers pushed back on).  The tour went exceptionally well and it seemed like everyone asked questions and were genuinely excited and motivated (at least in that moment) to experience college.

Eric very gracefully skipped lunch to help prep for bacteria work to make up for some lost time, which was a huge help for me.  We divided into two groups (boys & girls, surprise surprise) to count three locations’ bacteria plates. After which (with negative time) I demonstrated quickly how we were going to filter the samples for sediment (another way to determine turbidity) using coffee filters and beakers to separate a pre-determined amount of water sample.  This process is going to have to be completed by us leaders to make up some time but we are hoping to get them to look at the collected sediment through the microscopes so make some visual comparisons.

All in all, even though my time management wasn’t ideal the day went exceptionally well.  All campers were engaged during all of the activities (which made the day fly by) and we got a lot of “real” science done.  The most exciting plus of the day (from a leader standpoint) was that the campers’ thinking was starting to come out on its own, without us prompting (or prying) for it.  Our least engaged camper, M, seems to have opened up a little which I’m hoping to continue working to increase his contribution to the group which will be crucial for the Team Presentation.  Time and material management wasn’t set up to the best of my abilities because I underestimated how much needed to be done for data analysis.  Also, I didn’t get as far as I had hoped, which leaves extra work for tomorrow’s leader but as a group we have decided to set up some stuff for the campers just to cut down on some of the more boring, organizational tasks they would need to do in order to reach their conclusions and construct their explanations.  I feel as though today really tested me, my focus, and my resilience but, although the full agenda wasn’t completed, I think we came out on top just from the view that all of our campers were engaged, excited, and left happy.  This experience has left me much more confident in my abilities to lead a group of (not always cooperative) adolescents and to get them excited in science; I’m now even more excited to step into a classroom.

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