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Our February Vacation – A Science Adventure! February 25, 2010

Posted by sonaldhingra in Events.
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Most kids look forward to school vacations so they can lounge on the couch and watch weekday morning TV in their pajamas. But for a handful of Cambridge youth, this ordinary February vacation took an adventurous turn.

For the entire week (Feb 16-19), 25 girls in K2 – 6th grade came together at the M.L. King Community School to learn about, what else, SCIENCE! Each day we participated in hands on activities and in the afternoons we went on lots of fun field trips to some very interesting locations.

Our adventure began on Tuesday – learning about gasses, acids, bases, invisible inks and that cabbage juice smells really really bad but that it is an excellent pH indicator. As we were doing our experiments, we came across a ransom note! Someone stole our class’ digital camera and we had to get it back. But how could we figure out who did it? By ink analysis from the ransom note of course! We got cracking and tested several different pens left on the scene. Using chromatography we deduced that it was none other than our mentor scientist Lesley Mebane! She appologized and returned the camera, and since she also taught us all this cool stuff, we decided to forgive her.

College HypeWe ended our first day by hanging out with our friends at College Hype where we got to learn how apparel of all kinds gets printed on. It was interesing to see how the printing press worked and how the inks are used – especially on multi-ink logos. College Hype can print over 300 shirts an hour and it takes over 5,000 degrees from a special bulb to burn images in to screens to get ready for printing!

Girls at EliotWednesday was back-to-back field trips. Our first stop: The Eliot School, where we got to build bird houses. These were not the traditional bird houses that you normally see but rather custom fitted for some of the common birds we see around our area, like wrens and sparrows. Interesting fact: the peg that is usually put in front of the hole for the birds to enter and exit from is not needed! Actually this hole doesn’t help birds but rather helps squirrels and other non-bird creatures get in these houses. So the next time you build a bird house – leave out the peg!

TrailsideThat fact was from the Blue Hills Trailside Musem – which was our next stop. There we met some amazing creatures like the otter who does back flips and the snowy owl (all of which are rescued animals).  We also got to meet some animals up close and personal and thanks to our instructor Ms. Peg we learned some more amazing facts:

  • A screech owl weigh only a quarter of a pound
  • The peregrine falcons are the fastest animal on the planet, flying at 200mph (cheetahs are the fastest mammal)
  • Barn owls can hear a mouse squeak up to a half a mile away

ShellThursday we got to go back in time. We made our own fossils and then our fantastic mentor scientist Bridget Alex taught us about the evolution of ancient animals and how animals use camouflage to survive in their particular habitats. She even accompanied us to the Harvard Museum of Natural History where she arranged some special tours of archeology labs. We got to see animal skulls and bones up close and made some excellent observations about domesticated vs. wild animals.

Friday was our last day together. What could we do to bring together all of the amazing things we did this week? By a trip to the Children’s Museum! We played with the bubbles, saw the virtual butterflies, checked out the green roof and so much more. In fact, we were having so much fun that we forgot to take any pictures! But take our word for it – it was AWESOME!

Phew! What a week that was. We are thankful to everyone that helped us make this such a special time for these girls. If you missed this vacation week, fear not! We are having two more in April (20-23) in Boston and in Newton. For more information, be sure to visit our website! For more pictures check out our Facebook album.




1. Mary McGowan - March 1, 2010

I am jealous that I did not have a chance to spend a vacation week like this when I was in school! Congratulations to everyone who imagined and organized this program. These girls cannot help but see that science is fun.

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