Students make summer science discoveries at BNL

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Students entering fourth, fifth and sixth grade participated in “Physics Quest” at the Brookhaven National Laboratory as part of their Summer Science Program. The focus of the three-day program included how the universe impacts physics on Earth.

During the program’s first two days, students explored the different forms of energy necessary to make objects move. They built a roller coaster comprised of tubes, cups, tape and marbles. Before students began to assemble their roller coasters, they used YouTube for inspirational videos. Groups were given time to collaborate and develop a design that incorporated one hill and a loop to control the amount of energy the marble had. All students worked together generating ideas and offering strategies that ultimately led to the success of every roller coaster by safely transporting a marble into a cup.

At the conclusion of the program, the young scientists explored the solar system and elements of astrophysics, the study of how planets and stars work. Students re-enacted the creation of moon craters by dropping various size objects to emulate meteors, and studied the impact by generating data composed of width and diameter. They further expanded their knowledge of astronomy by constructing a scale model of Saturn.

Additionally, students learned of plans for the construction of the world’s largest telescope by a scientist in Chile that could help collect more information about the solar system. They studied CCD sensors, which are used in digital photography and telescopes, and learned how they convert information into images. Students teamed up to create a large image and act as “transmitters” only using nonverbal signals to their partner. The task was to color a 30-box grid to match the dot code given that corresponded to different colors. When completed, all grids were put together to create a message.