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Workshops

Below is a list of workshops often used in the program.

Strawberry DNA

This hands-on activity introduces students to basic genetics, specifically the concept of DNA.  They will become biochemical engineers for the day as they take a close look at how DNA can be extracted from fruit.  Using the fact that the extracellular membrane and the nuclei of cells are made up of fatty substances, students use an extraction buffer to break the substances down.

In the first part of the experiment, students smash the fruit so that the cells separate from each other, exposing the them to the extraction buffer (in this experiment, detergent).  The extraction buffer then encapsulates the released DNA.  The mixture is then filtered so that the nucleic acid is separated from the smashed plant matter.  Finally, the DNA is suspended into alcohol so that it can be more easily observed by the students.  The students can also collect the DNA by twirling it around string, giving them a keepsake to take home.


Shocking Lemons

Students are introduced to basic principles of electronics such as batteries, light-emitting diodes, series and parallel circuits, and multimeters.  They begin by cleaning the electrodes both mechanically and chemically.  They then use the electrodes to create a battery, which is then used to turn on an LED light bulb.  Through building a simple galvanic cell using lemons, copper, and zinc electrodes, students create their own electric current.


Cantilever Challenge

Students use a variety of materials to design and build a cantilever beam.  They are challenged to design and build the longest possible overhanging structure that can support a 100-gram mass suspended at the far end of the beam.  In addition to receiving an introduction to basic engineering principles, students also learn about the physics of Newton's laws of motion.

The materials used to build this beam include Popsicle sticks, rubber bands, paper clips, toothpicks, duct tape, balloons, Dixie cups, and straws.


Robotic Hand

Students experience the world of a biomedical engineer for the day as they design and build their own prosthesis.  The objective for the prosthesis is to build a hand that can grasp and hold a ping-pong ball.

Using their problem solving skills, students build a robotic hand using common craft materials, such as drinking straws, plywood, string, and hose washers.  The end product will simulate both the anatomy and physiology of the human hand.  To make the prosthetic finger bend, the student pulls a string, which simulates muscles controlling tendons in an arm.


Materials Science and Engineering Demo

This workshop explores what happens to materials when temperature is changed. You will see what happens when different materials are frozen to almost 200ºF below freezing as well as other materials at extremely high temperatures. You'll also get to play with a superconductor, see what a shape memory alloy is, and get to eat frozen marshmallows!


Catapult Challenge

Students will be divided into small teams of 3-5 students. Each team will have 25 minutes to create a catapult that will launch a ping pong ball to its maximum distance. Each design will be judged on total distance as well as “cost of materials” used.


Rocket Car

Explore the principles of aerodynamics and Newton’s Laws of Motion. Students will construct a balloon-powered rocket car from simple materials. They will test their design and compete in the UConn 500.


Next Dimension

Students will learn that 3D printing is the future of manufacturing. They will get to experience subtractive manufacturing while witnessing a feat of engineering. The boys will get to take home a project made from our very own 3D printer.


Electricity and Magnetism

Come discover if electricity and magnetism are related. This workshop will have the participants replicate Michael Ferriday's famous discovery of 1820 and then build a working electric motor. Lenz’s Law along with a number of other E&M activities are demonstrated.


Code a Rocket Launch

Students will use basic concepts and logic of Computer Science to coordinate a rocket launch like the SpaceX Falcon Heavy. Students will also increase their knowledge of binary code and the role it plays in our modern society.


Just Keep Swimming

Students will learn about environmental engineering and different methods of cleaning up polluted waters. Students will develop an understanding of factors such as time, cost and effectiveness to find the best method to clean up a sample of polluted water using a cup filtration system with different medium through which to filter the polluted water.


Gack and Diapers

Students will explore the chemistry of polymer science. You will reverse engineer a diaper and then cross-link a polymer and observe the changes in the physical properties as a result of this cross-linking.  You will also learn about fluid properties including viscosity!


Kid Krypto - Computer Science

Students will be divided into small groups of 4 students. And within these groups they form two subgroups.  Each team will have 30 minutes to create their own encryption using a picture and a unique code created by the individual. The groups will conclude by showing off their encryption and having others guess their message.


Robotic Leg

Students will build a robotic leg from common household materials, such as sponges, pipes, bungee cords, plunger, tape and woods. This process relates to the similar problem solving that biomedical engineers engage in while creating prosthetic devises.  Their objective is to build a leg that one can walk with using only one leg.