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Mounds of Fun at Explorit's Summer Camp

This article appeared in the June 19, 2015 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Mounds of Fun at Explorit's Summer Camp

A cathedral termite mound in Northern Territory, Australia. Photo by J Brew.

 

By Lisa Justice

Special to the Enterprise

 

Summer Science Camp kicked off at Explorit this week with scores of eager campers tie dying their shirts and embarking on any number of fascinating science explorations. From forays into nanotechnology to classics like the egg-drop challenge, our young scientists are tackling it all.

 

This week our junior engineers in the Preschool/Kindergarten camp are donning their hardhats to undertake a variety of engineering and design challenges. They have built bridges to span two chairs and constructed a paper city that wouldn’t blow down in the face of a fan.

 

Next, they’ll be exploring the architects of the animal world by simulating different animal homes from bird nests to spider webs. One of the wonders they will replicate is the work of the cathedral termites of Australia who use mud, chewed wood and their own saliva to make towering mounds that can be up to 15 feet tall!

 

These mound create a colossal termite city and serve many purposes. Condensing water in the deep interior of the mound helps keep these tiny animals cool in a hot, arid climate. They also help termites cultivate mushrooms for a tasty treat for the vast termite colony.

 

Our campers will be exploring these natural wonders by building their own and you can join in the fun at home with this recipe for sand dough. You will need: 4 cups of sand, 2 cups of corn starch, 2 cups of water, a pot, a stove, a stirring spoon, a bowl and some plastic wrap. Make sure you have an adult to help with the hot stove.

 

Stir together your sand and corn starch in the pot until it’s well blended. Heat it on the stove over low heat and stir in the water. Keep stirring until it thickens and feels like mud. Scrape it into a bowl to cool, then cover with plastic wrap to store.

 

When your sand dough is cool enough to touch, you can sculpt it into a termite mound, a sand castle or anything you can imagine! Your dough will harden as it dries.

 

How tall of a mound can you build? Termite mounds are hollow so they can move around inside. Can you make your mound hollow? Imagine being a tiny termite and having to move your building supplies just a tiny bit at a time to build your mound!

 

Our world is full of engineering marvels that solve a variety of problems and make it a better place for both people and animals. Over the course of the summer, Explorit’s Summer Science Camp will expose campers to some of these amazing feats of nature and human ingenuity, while challenging and inspiring them to achieve their own.

 

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Explorit’s coming events:

 

  • Explorit’s Exploration Gallery is open to the public every Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, 1:00-5:00 p.m. and every Friday, 3:00-6:00 p.m.  Admission is $5.00 per person; Explorit members, teachers and children 2 and under are free. Come check out the new “Our World in Water” activities!
  • Interested in helping out the community through board membership? Explorit is currently seeking individuals in the community to serve as members of our volunteer board. Please call or email for additional information on how to apply.
  • Interested in membership?  Think your Explorit membership may have lapsed?  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 to check or sign up!
  • Birthdays are back at Explorit!  Call Explorit at 530-756-0191 for more information or to book your party.

 

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Explorit Science Center is located at 3141 5th St. For more information call (530) 756-0191 or visit http://www.explorit.org, or “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/explorit.fb.

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