Chicago Engineering Explorations 6/27: Boat Building

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6/27: Boat Building

This week, our engineers are building boats using simple items. Today they used aluminum foil to build their boats to test how much weight they could hold. They learned principles about load, and about the Archimedes Principle!

Ask your students: How did the Archimedes Principle relate to your activity today? Why do you think this Principle is important to know? (Answers will vary)



Chicago Engineering Explorations 6-26: Mini Lungs

Chicago Engineering Explorations 6-26: Mini Lungs

Today, in Engineering Explorations, the students learned about the anatomy of the heart and lungs and how they function in the human body. Our bio-engineers built their own working model of a lung and demonstrated how the diaphragm works based on air pressure differentials. The end goal of the day was to relate the lung model to relevant heart anatomy and physiology.

Ask your student: What is the purpose of the diaphragm in the repertory system? (Each breath begins with a contraction of a dome-shaped sheet of muscle underneath the lungs called the diaphragm. During inhalation (taking air into your lungs) your diaphragm contracts, or flattens downward, which reduces pressure in the chest cavity. Normal outside air pressure is higher, which forces air through the nose and mouth, down the trachea and into the lungs where pressure is lower (pressure systems move from high to low). On the other hand, upon exhalation your diaphragm relaxes, which increases pressure on the lungs and forcing air, containing carbon dioxide, out of the body.)

Belleville: Micro STEM 6/19-23

Belleville: Micro STEM 6/19-23


Students began a two day project today, investigating bacteria that surrounds us. Each student will test their own fingers, and each group of 4 students could pick up to 8 different surfaces to see what kinds of bacteria live there. Alternatively, the students could choose to see what happened to the bacteria from the same surface with some sort of treatment (applying hand sanitizer, soap, etc.). Students were given the chance to make a hypothesis about what they expect to see on their plates. Later on this week, the students will use a microscope to look at the results of their samples, and test their hypotheses.

Ask your student: If bacteria surrounds us, why don’t we get sick more often? (Not all bacteria are pathogenic (disease causing)) What are some examples of places where good bacteria are found? (Almost anywhere has some amount of good bacteria, some examples would be in our intestines and mouth)


Students continued their exploration in thermodynamics today with another heating experiment. Yesterday, students started with a beaker of ice, which they heated until the water boiled. They created a time versus temperature graph of their collected data in order to observe how phase changes affect temperature. Today, students performed the same experiment with a twist: they added salt to the water. They created another graph, and compared how the salt affected the time vs. temperature curve.

Ask your student: How did adding salt change the way your graph looked? (boiling point increased, reduced the time it took to melt) What do the plateaus on the graph represent? (phase changes)


Today, in MicroSTEM, the students built upon their knowledge of atoms and ions as they used their own bodies to represent atoms and ions that bond to form ionic compounds. The students played a game where they were challenged to find a partner “match” to create an ionic compound with a net charge of zero. Also, today in MicroSTEM, the students built simple ionic compounds and then created crystalline structures with the whole class.

Ask your student: To create a neutral ionic compound with a Sodium ion (+1 charge), what charge would the other ion have to be? (-1 charge)


Today, the investigation of different kinds of magnifying devices continued. Students got the chance to go outside and collect various samples of their choice. After collection, the samples were brought inside to be analyzed with a compound light microscope. Students also reviewed the various parts of a compound microscope, and the importance of each part in the function of the microscope as a whole.

Ask your student: What similarities and differences did you notice when you were using the different tools for magnification (MicroPhone lens, hand lens, compound light microscope, and stereoscope)?


Today, in MircoSTEM, the students examined real circuits in a calculator to see how a calculator functions and explore how numbers are displayed. Students focused on the display of the calculator, in particular how numbers are displayed using a 7-segment display.

Ask your student: What type of numerical display do most four function calculators have? (7-segment) What type of numerical display do most graphing calculators have? (Dot matrix)

Game Day STEM 6/22: Egghead Day 1

Game Day STEM 6/22: Egghead Day 1

Today, in Game Day STEM, the students used a “Free Fall Impact Tester” to test how well specific materials protect a hard-boiled egg from a free falling object. The goal of the activity was to simulate how well different materials used in helmets protect the head from impact all while learning about free fall distance and velocity.

Ask your student: What is the relationship between the height of a dropped object and the velocity with which the object is traveling? (The higher the height the object is dropped from, the greater the velocity. There is a direct relationship between height and velocity)

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Game Day STEM 6/21: Pole Vaulting!

Game Day STEM 6/21: Pole Vaulting!

Today, students continued to explore the important role that physics plays in sports.  They also investigated how potential and kinetic energy plays a role in pole vaulting. After collecting data, students hypothesized the optimal conditions for a vault, and using an online simulation, they were able to test some of these hypotheses by changing various factors that affect pole vaulting (speed of vaulter, height of bar, etc.).

Ask your student: Is there an optimal amount of flexibility in the pole that would be best for the vaulter? Which factor had the biggest effect on whether or not the vaulter cleared the bar?

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Game Day STEM 6/20: What’s Your Vertical?

Game Day STEM 6/20: What’s Your Vertical?

Today students tested to see how the position of your body affects the way it moves. After selecting a few different angles, the students precisely measured the flexion of their knee, and then measured how high they could jump!

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Ask your student: What angle helped you to jump the highest?

Game Day STEM – 6/19: Splash Science

Game Day STEM – 6/19: Splash Science

To start off the week, in one of their lessons the students investigated splash. They experimented with different variables in order to hypothesize what is necessary for divers to enter the water with minimal splash. Students generated an investigable question, developed a procedure to test their question, and analyzed the results of their experiment.

While testing their hypothesis students dropped many different weighted objects at different heights into the water to see what was different in the splash.

A question to ask your student: What was your investigable question(s)? (various answers)

What splash do you think this will create? The young scientists are coming up with “testable” questions about how the height, angle of entry, and shape of an object will affect its splash.
What splash do you think this will create? The young scientists are coming up with “testable” questions about how the height, angle of entry, and shape of an object will affect its splash.
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Students are trying to determine who they will draft based on the athlete’s body type.
Students are trying to determine who they will draft based on the athlete’s body type.
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The students are “gearing up” for cycling science! Those nifty purple items are gear kits that allow the students to figure out how to manipulate gear ratio for better performance.

Micro STEM

Micro STEM

Did you know that some of the smallest things in our universe are also some of the most powerful?

From microwaves, to molecules, to circuits and code, this program will take a hands-on approach to exploring the STEM of tiny things.

Students will gain a greater understanding of the small underpinnings of everything around us. What’s behind the flip of a switch? What is life made of?  How can we make sense of the things we can’t see?

This program will harness the power of smartphones and innovative scope lenses to help students answer these questions and more!

Game Day STEM

Game Day STEM

Ever wonder about the math, engineering, and physics principles that are the foundation of sports?

Come to IMSA to examine the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math behind the many of the sports you know and love!

Students will design, build, and race a robotic swimmer, re-engineer an archer’s bow, test cycling tires and gears, and more!

Participants will leave with an understanding of how STEM concepts are harnessed to help athletes maximize their performance.

Summer 2017 is Almost Here!

Summer 2017 is Almost Here!

We are gearing up for summer 2017 and we are so excited to have all of you!

As we get closer to the start of our programs, here is some information that might be helpful to you.

Day Programs:

  • The program day begins at 8:30 a.m. and runs to 3:00 p.m. Morning drop-off/check in begins at 8:15 a.m. – and concludes at 8:30 a.m. Do NOT drop your child off prior to 8:15, as there will be so supervision available before this time.
  • Monday morning check-in: On the first day of the program, it is mandatory for parents to park and walk their participant to the summer program staff for first-day check-in. Your child will be assigned to a group leader who will be their same leader throughout the week.
  • Lunch is included in the program fee and provided through our food service, Sodexho. They offer many options for students, including burgers, macaroni and cheese, a salad bar, fresh fruit, and many other items. You may choose to send your child with a sack lunch if you prefer. Please note: the cafeteria is NOT a peanut free environment.
  • Pick up is promptly at 3:00 PM. We do not provide extended care. Please be timely and prompt with drop off and pick up for the best and safest experience for every participant.  Our personnel need to prepare for the next day after day programs end at 3:00 p.m.
  • Late Pickup Fee:  IMSA day programs end at 3 p.m.  Any parent/guardian picking up a child late will be assessed a fee of $15 per child for any pickup 15 minutes late and $1 per minute thereafter. Late fees are due on the child’s next day of camp.

Residential Programs:

  • Residential program check-in begins at 6:00 PM on the Sunday before the program start date. The entrance will change based on which dorms the students will be in. Please make note of this in your pre-program email!
  • Please plan on arriving to pick up your child between 1:45-1:55 p.m. the following Friday(the last day of the program). There will be a 30 minute program presentation/wrap-up starting promptly at 2:00 pm.
  • We do not honor requests to pair or group friends or relatives during their class during the day; however, they will have the opportunity to mingle during common activities such as lunch and free time.  Program participants are grouped at random to encourage a positive learning experience, meeting new friends while engaging in program activities.
  • We DO take requests for roommates. Friends or relatives (of the same gender) can be paired as roommates if both parties request each other by sending an email to us a Please include the program name and week offered, your child’s name, and the name of the child being requested as a roommate. We must receive this at least 10 days before the first date of your program to accommodate it.
  • Your child will be assigned to a group leader who will be their same leader throughout the week.