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LOWELL - The UMass Lowell DesignCamp buzzes with the cheerful sound of active learning. More than 400 students, ranging from grade 5 to 10, are enrolled in one of 12 weeklong science and engineering workshops in July. The experience is totally hands-on: students learn about the real world of technology by developing their own ideas, experimenting and building their own "way-cool" inventions.
Sample topics include
- Energy Engineers: build toys using homemade batteries or a chemical cannon,
- Kinetic Sculpture: learn metalworking to craft a moving sculpture or mobile,
- Spaceship Earth: make a dome shelter, solar cooker, or hydroponic garden,
- Sea-Mobiles: build and test model boat hulls and race air boats, and
- Animatronics: build a robotic creature using a Cricket microprocessor.
Workshops are housed in UMass Lowell labs and taught by a specialized team of science and technology teachers, who have studied engineering concepts and designed their own workshops. Campers end the week with a design show, and take home both their creations and their toolkits. Several sessions are reserved for girls only; all the camps attract a mix of urban and suburban students of various ethnic backgrounds.
Major sponsors of DesignCamp are Raytheon Corporation and Sun Microsystems ($10,000 each), as well as the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, UMass Lowell's Women in Science and Engineering program and EMC Corporation.
More information: www.designcamp.org and the DesignCamp office, 978-934-4690.