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IDEA Camp 2019

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Welcome to the 2019 IDEA Camp!

Once again, we are eager to be partnering with UMass Lowell this year to deliver 10 exciting educational programs with workshops spread out across three weeks this summer.  All workshops run from 8:30 AM through 3:00PM, and there is an Extended Day Option each week available between 3:00 PM and 4:30 PM.

Week one workshops run July 8 - 12
Week two workshops run July 15-19
Week three workshops run July 22-26

Program descriptions are outlined below, followed by the workshop activity registration area.

Please note that each workshop activity is designed for students at a specific grade level.  Grade levels have been lowered for registration purposes, in order to allow students entering the required grade level to register (e.g., a student currently in 6th grade will be able to register for a workshop for 7th graders).

Architects Studio
(grades 7-9, week 3)
Design and build a model of your dream home! Students analyze different styles of houses, from colonials and capes to contemporaries and ranches. They compare windows, doors, and roof styles determining which architectural style is best suit for the environment in which the house is geographically located. Taking into consideration dimensions furniture and appliances; students have to accurately plan the size and shape of each room. Some students design lavish mansions, while others design more humble abodes. Upon completing their blueprints, students then use foam board to build a 3-D model of their design. Finally, the architects calculate the square footage of their design and use it to determine the current market value of their home in the location of their choice.
Carnival Contraptions (grades 5-6, week 2)
Flashing LED lights, buzzers, floating Mylar balloons, marshmallow launchers, spin art and Styrofoam balls are what make up some of the materials the students use during their week in Carnival Contraptions.  The creations are limited only by the imagination and a keen sense of what makes a carnival game fun.  The students learn about electrical circuits, both serial and parallel, as they create games that have blinking lights and warning alarms.  The popular marshmallow launcher created from PVC pipe, bike tire valves and some compressed air, allows an exciting take on the game of skill.  Using gears, motors and some batteries, a spin art machine allows students to see behind the scene of what makes up their favorite activities.
Crime Science (grades 6-7, weeks 1 & 3)
The science of forensics is fascinating and in this workshop we capture real science while solving crimes.   Students participate in a variety of vignettes to learn about a variety of strategies that are used to solve the unknown.  Activities include fingerprint classification, blood type analysis, chromatography, plaster shoe print capturing, DNA extractions, pH testing of unknown powders and bone identification.  At the conclusion of the week-long program, students find a crime has been committed in their work area.  Using their newly acquired expertise in forensics, they process the evidence left behind to find the culprit who seems to have stolen a very expensive phone.
Flight School (grades 5-7, week 1)
What do you get when you cross Mylar balloons with small motors and metal washers? . . . Blimps! Students attach small motors to a Popsicle stick frame, along with metal washers to get just the right buoyancy to fly their blimp around the room.  Next students have a blast building air pressure rockets out of 1 liter plastic bottles. By experimenting with nose cones, the number of fins, and fin placement, students test their ability to launch their rocket the highest! Take flight with a hot air balloon! Using tissue paper and good old fashioned glue, students design and construct a hot air balloon. But before students are allowed to build their balloon, they must first calculate the dimensions of their design and determine if there is enough volume to create lift.  We haven’t even talked about balsa airplanes!

Got DIRT? (grades 5-9, week 3)
Students are fully immersed in the local food experience during Got Dirt!   Working directly in a garden, they see how food grows from seed to harvest.  They use what they harvest to prepared delicious healthy lunches and snacks.  They visit local grocery stores to learn about organic options and food choices.  Throughout the week they visit an urban garden in Lowell where they get the chance to speak with professionals who work with food and the environment as their career.  The focus is for students to see how growing food is possible in any setting.  They learn how to make pickles and cheese from “scratch” and the science behind how both those food items happen.    Students will create recipes each day based on their experiences during lunches and snacks and will share these with their family.  Lowell Public Schools has a garden at each of its middle schools and at 12 of the elementary schools.  Students in Got Dirt! previously designed an irrigation system for the Stoklosa School garden and would like to provide this service for other gardens in our district.
Robotics (grades 5-6, week 1; grades 7-9, week 2)
Design and build smart robots that overcome obstacles, find their way through mazes, and accomplish search and rescue missions. Learn how to program robots using the NXC language, (which is similar to C programming).  Students use LEGO MINDSTORMS is a hands-on, cross-curricular STEM solution that engages students by providing the resources to design, build and program their creations while helping them develop essential skills such as creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, and communication.
Sea Mobiles (grades 7-9, weeks 1 & 2)
One of our most popular programs! During the process of building a Seamobile, they follow an established curriculum to completely assemble the remotely operated vehicle (ROV), test it, and then participate in launching their vehicles.  Throughout the project, students will learn engineering concepts, problem solving, teamwork, and technical applications.

Video Game Makers (grades 5-7, weeks 2 & 3)
What better way to spend a week in the summer than doing something you already love to do, play video games.  However, this workshop shows you how to develop and play your own game.  Did you know that the math behind the scenes of any video game is what makes it so awesome?  Mathematics is the foundation of every game and necessary for everything to work as the designers intend.  So when kids say, “why do I have to know this”, we have the answer.

Wire the Bedroom (grades 5-6, week 1)
Students design and build a range of electrical inventions for their room, including a security system, secret candy safe, spinning party lights powered by a homemade electric motor, and a fortune teller box - the electrical version of the old Magic 8 ball.   Switches hidden in plain site, like under a welcome mat, provide a fun way to learn how circuits work.  A secret candy safe is constructed that uses an electromagnet to open the door, but only if you know the code
You Code Girl! (grades 5-6, week 2; grades 7-8, week 3)
These students are our future problem solvers, innovators and role models.  This all girls group provides a fantastic opportunity to learn what coding is, what coding does and, more importantly, that coding is fun.   Once the girls learn to code early in the week, the skills are transferred to programing a Sphero, which takes coding to a new level.  As the website states, “Sphero Edu provides a toolset that is unbounded in its potential by weaving hardware, software, and community engagement together. While coding and 21st century skills are necessary, our program also goes beyond code by incorporating robotics and technology with collaborative STEAM activities.”

Extended Day Option (weeks 1, 2 & 3)
Students registered for the extended day option will engage in a variety of activities while waiting to be picked up.  Please note that this option must be registered for in advance, and for the same week that the student is participating a program workshop activities; please make sure to choose the Extended Day Option for the appropriate week, accordingly.  Please note that if there is a bus available, it will only be available for the 3:00PM dismissal - NOT for the 4:30PM Extended Day Option.

General Registration Information
  • After creating an account, you should receive a confirmation via e-mail - THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU ARE REGISTERED FOR A PROGRAM. In order to properly register for a program, you will need to log into your account, search for a program, add it to your cart, then follow the steps of the checkout process.
  • After registering for a program, you will receive an e-mail confirmation which includes the activity date(s), time(s) and location(s) for the program you have registered for. IF YOU HAVE NOT RECEIVED A CONFIRMATION VIA E-MAIL, YOU ARE NOT FULLY REGISTERED INTO THE PROGRAM!
  • Availability for workshops may be added or omitted depending on enrollment.
  • Updates about Program workshops and activities will be emailed to the email account you have registered with your household account on this system.

What a typical day looks like...
  • All students should be dropped off at (and picked up from) the Riverside Parking Lot behind the Olney Hall Science Building (272 Riverside St, Lowell).
  • Students from all of the workshops meet together in the morning for attendance and breakfast.
  • Teachers will then walk students to the specific rooms they will be working in.
  • Students spend the day working on various workshop related projects.
  • Students from all of the workshops meet together as a full group in the afternoon for dismissal.
  • At the end of the week, there is a workshop showcase for students and their families to see the final projects.

Payment and Refund Policy
  • Payment may be made either online, by check, or money order. However, you are not confirmed a seat until full payment is made.
  • Payments made online are subject to a convenience fee collected by the credit card merchant (and NOT by the City). As a result your credit card will show two charges; one for the program/activity, and another for the convenience fee.
  • Please note that we have a very strict refund policy: "Regardless of the reason, refunds can NOT be issued once payment has been made." Please do not register for a program unless you are you sure you can attend.

Contact Information
  • Email us at
  • Phone at 978-674-2115

* Adjustments and discounts will be applied during checkout if applicable. *

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