This month’s exciting STEM news

Ok, so we know that lately we’ve been bombarding you with post after post about our CSI camp programs. And while we love these programs and could talk about them all day, everyday, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on some cool news pertaining to the other 8 subjects featured on our STEM Works and Kids Ahead websites. Here’s some cool things we did not get around to addressing during the month of July:

The Animal Kingdom IconAnimal Kingdom

A zonkey was born in Italy. You read that right, a zonkey. Part zebra, part donkey, Ippo was born in Florence, Italy last week, and the best part… he’s not the only one of his kind. Read article.

Extreme Weather IconExtreme Weather

NOAA’s National Weather Service more than doubled its computing capacity with newly upgraded supercomputers this month. These supercomputers will provide forecasters with more accurate information as the hurricane season ramps up. Read article.

Medical Innovations IconMedical Innovations

The race is on to produce a $100 genome test. As interest in DNA sequencing gains traction, entrepreneurs and scientists are trying to reduce the price of sequencing an entire human genome from $4,000 to $100. Read article.

Robotics IconRobotics

Robotics was declared as the next big growth industry in the US. Robotics Business Review estimates that consumer robot sales will reach $15 billion by 2015. Read article.

Space IconSpace

NASA turned 55 years old this month. We’ve come a long way since launching a chimpanzee into space, so check out this review of some of the most iconic moments in NASA’s history. Read article.

Under the Sea IconUnder the Sea

Shark Week! Shark Week! Shark Week! Ok, Shark Week didn’t exactly occur in July, but many of us spent the entire month gearing up! If, like us, you live for the gratuitous teeth shots, jump shots, and time-lapse shots, here are some fun shark facts to keep you occupied until Shark Week begins on August 4th. Read article.

Video Games IconVideo Games

STEM educators will love this one. The winners of the third annual STEM Video Game Challenge were announced this month. Learn all about the winners and applicants here.

Wind Energy IconWind Energy

According to National Geographic, scientists are exploring the possibility of storing excess wind energy in volcanic rock reservoirs. Didn’t know there was such a thing as excess wind energy? Neither did we! Read article.

So there, various STEM subject lovers. We’ve got you covered!

TED News in Brief: Did you make it into the Cassini photo? Plus: If you give a mouse a memory …

This was too cool not to share.

TED Blog

Did you go outside and smile for the camera last Friday, like Carolyn Porco (watch her talk) asked you to, while the Cassiniprobe snapped a photo of Jupiter with Earth in the background? In this hyper-detailed post from Diary of Numbers, the author calculates the odds that one of your photons is in the shot.

And you may be thinking: Oh, come on now. I know I wasn’t in that picture. Even though I made all that effort to go outside and smile, That’s it, Cassini: I’m over you. But you’ll fall in love again when you watch this 4-minute video compilation of Saturn images. Trippy and wonderful, it comes with a strobe effect warning, and gives a general sensation of floating in space, especially when you watch full-screen.

Last Sunday, Nicholas Christakis (watch his talk) published a provocative editorial — “Let’s Shake…

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CSI Final Day

For the last day of camp, we really wanted to have a bit of fun. So, after a morning “Harlem Shake” warm-up…

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we were visited by Denton County Sherrif’s Office.
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The representatives from the Denton Sherrif’s Office provided campers with an inside look into their job duties, and allowed campers to do a little exploring.
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Whodunit Final Guess

Our campers learned all sorts of wonderful new information today about the FBI, biometrics, and DNA, and we are now down to four remaining suspects. So this is your final chance to guess whodunit!

Who do you think it was?

CSI Day 4

We have had quite the busy day today! Though our gumshoes have been doing an amazing job narrowing our list of suspects on their own, we thought we’d bring in a little backup. Special Agent Marshall from the FBI spent his morning helping our campers look examine the evidence of the kidnapping case and identify some clues they may not have thought of.

Campers also got a realistic idea of what it takes to pursue a career with the FBI.

Our investigators-in-training learned a lot from Special Agent Marshall, and everyone was sad to see him go.

After we parted ways with the FBI agent, campers went right back to work on their biometrics activities. They learned how the shape of our hands,

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the shape of our ears,

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and the way we walk, can be used to identify us.

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The afternoon was spent focusing on a much smaller part of our body, our DNA. Dr. Jones of SMU stopped by to discuss what DNA is and how it is used in CSI.

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Once Dr. Jones made campers experts in DNA, they applied this knowledge to extract their very own DNA sample from a strawberry.

They smashed,

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strained,

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and took home their very own sample!

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CSI Camp – Day 3

After our campers spent the morning identifying where the culprit’s soil sample came from and which marker he/she used in the note found at the scene, campers moved on to some fun biometrics activities. These activities taught our campers about the many ways the human body can be used to identify people, from our ears to the way we walk.

The end of our camp day sure had teeth… literally. Officer Martin came to visit our camp, and she brought her dog, Caro, with her.

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Officer Martin and Caro make up the K-9 unit for the Wylie Police Department. Caro assists Officer Martin in finding things, from people, to narcotics, to cell phones lost by other police officers during a chase.

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Though Caro definitely had teeth, at his heart his is just a playful dog who loves his owner.
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And we couldn’t let the kids have all the fun today. Our staff enjoyed the presentation just as much.

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By the end of the day, we learned that the marker used at the crime scene was an Expo marker, which ruled out the following suspects:

  • Danielle Caldwell
  • Brian Crouch
  • Phillip Lockhart
  • Phil Munsterman

So NOW who do you think dunnit?

Investigators Get Their Hands Dirty

Our campers got their hands dirty this morning examining more of the evidence found at the crime scene – a note and a soil sample.

Campers hit the lab to place the soil sample under the microscope, hoping to determine its place of origin.

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And because the note was written with a black marker, our investigators-in-training were able to determine which type of marker it was written with in our paper chromatography lab.

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CSI Boys Camp – Day 2 Recap

After spending the morning examining how fingerprints serve as identifiers, campers spent the afternoon learning about forensic anthropology and medical examination. Then our campers put their knowledge to the test to narrow down our list of kidnapping suspect list. According to the fingerprints found at the crime, our suspect’s fingerprint type was a loop. This determination eliminated the following suspects:

  • Andrew Blanchard
  • Anna Hoffman
  • Kristine Reiley
  • Sam Seidel
  • Amie Torres

So what do you think? Who dunnit?

Boys Camp Day 2 – Fingerprints!!!

The morning of the second day of camp was all about fingerprints!  Our boys were hard at work learning the tools they need to analyze the fingerprints of the suspects.  This will help them narrow down who the kidnapper is!

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But…everyone needs a little help sometimes…

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Getting your fingerprints scanned by a sensor can be a little overwhelming.   Don’t worry, our counselors are super nice!

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Apparently fingerprint dusting can be a little hard to handle as well!

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But never fear…our awesome camp teachers have everything under control.
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See, learning about your fingerprints can be loads of fun!

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Yes, fingerprint dusting can be a little frustrating (and messy).Image

But with the aid of our friendly police officers, everything ended up according to plan! Now the campers know how to collect fingerprints from evidence such as Snapple bottles and analyze them by distinguishing between the different types of fingerprints.

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Now that the boys have gained some new knowledge, they need to boost their energy before continuing on with their investigation.  That means…LUNCH TIME!!!!!

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Boy’s CSI Camp – Day 1 Recap

Sitting in auditorium on a rainy Monday morning, our boy campers received a big surprise when guys from the SMU SWAT team barged in from the back door, armed with rifles and in full suit and armor!

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Luckily…no one was arrested that morning.  The SWAT guys came as friends and bearers of more interesting information.  They even let the boys feel the weight of a real armor vest!  The SWAT team is awesome!

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After a busy morning of evidence collecting at the crime scene and learning how to seek out liars, our campers received some more advice from an expert friend from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) department!

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Hearing the stories from Special Agent Goates’ years of experience, the campers gained more insight into how to commence their investigation of the mysterious kidnapping at the Caruth Institute!

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By the end of the day, the boys achieved a breakthrough! The guys (or perhaps gals) with the red shirts –it had to be one of them!

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