NASA Wavelength is transitioning to a new location on Jan. 30, 2019, read notice »

Out-of-this-World Camp Programs

Written by Andrew Clark, IGES

Camps and summertime enrichment programs are an exciting component of year-round student learning. With the flexibilities of camp scheduling, and a few great resources from Wavelength, it’s easy to create engaging and educational programming for your campers.

During the annual American Camp Association (ACA) National Conference, NASA will be hosting a special session February 5th, at 10:30am, “Five Easy Ways to Create Out-of-this-World Programs with NASA Resources.” But you won’t have to wait until then to get a sneak peek to inspire your creativity – there’s already a great list of camp projects, games, and resources on NASA Wavelength! From down-to-earth investigations to outer space imaginations, there’s something for every age group and setting.

The chance to get outside more often and explore the natural world can be the highlight of many campers' experiences. With "Survivor: Earth," campers will investigate local and global water issue. Across 10 one-hour lessons, students will make observations, take measurements, and contribute to citizen science through the GLOBE protocol. While the lessons are designed to build on one another, it's possible to use lessons independently to highlight a particular angle. For more information about citizen science for students, check out our four-part blog series here on Wavelength:

Handicrafts are a classic camp pastime; the creation of a physical artifact is always a rewarding experience. “What Can We Learn About the Sun from Shadows?” is an activity that requires observation, measurement, and prediction about the world, and motivates students to create their own tool – a sundial! There are other activities that will make use of the sundial, too.

A great deal of NASA science is done through remote sensing, whether infrared, xray, or visible light. So there’s a natural connection to activities in the visual arts. “Vesta Mosaic: Art Informing Science” combines visual arts practice with scientific application. In this activity, campers get to see first hand how important the relative lightness or darkness of an object is to both art and science. Though scientists refer to it as albedo, middle school campers will grasp the concept after sketching their own portion of a larger high-resolution image, and then seeing their work in a larger mosaic context.

There are even kinesthetic activities that teach about the formation of the solar system. “Active Accretion” is similar to a game of tag, but with science! Campers start out as dust particles in orbit around the sun, eventually tagging and linking up into chondrules, meteoroids, and finally asteroids, just like the young solar system. Along the way there are some suggested critical thinking questions that link back to NASA science.

So as you can see, the kinds of activities you can find for your campers on NASA Wavelength really run the gamut. From artsy to athletic, and imaginative to industrious, there really is something for everyone. Take a look at the sample list, and browse a little bit. See you at the ACA conference in New Orleans! Visit us at Booth #913!

Explore more activities here: