Having Fun, FABcamp Style

FABcamp, week 1The Samueli School’s FABcamp got off to a boisterous beginning with a full roster of middle school children. The first group of 9 girls and 20 boys could be seen touring labs and walking around the school in bright yellow t-shirts.  This week’s session is underway with 9 girls and 22 boys.

This is the inaugural year for the summer camp, designed for 7th and 8th graders. It is run by UCI engineering staff, students and faculty, and provides an opportunity for the children to design, build and create projects from start to finish. Working in state of the art UCI laboratories, campers put their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills to work.

The budding engineers spent each morning working in the RapidTech Center where they learned how to use CAD and the laser cutter. They designed and made their own balsawood airplanes, and cast plastic models of their thumbs. They spent afternoons in the Calit2 multidisciplinary design program lab where they are introduced to each Samueli School engineering department through a fun science project. They building a fuel celllearned about electricity, how to make basic circuits and create LED display boards. They designed and constructed an index card structure and tested its strength with bricks. Last week’s winning team‘s structure held four bricks! They learned how to make a fuel cell and hand-shaken vanilla ice cream. Using thin plastic, pipe cleaners, modeling clay, duct tape, a Styrofoam ball and a couple other items, the campers created a one way valve to simulate a prosthetic heart valve. They tested it by pouring water through it. The water is supposed to flow in one direction and not the other.

On the final day of camp, they tested their airplanes from the second floor of engineering tower, using an inclinometer to measure the angle of flight. In groups of six, they also made a vacuum-powered hovercraft, then took turns riding it.

Last week, the kids had so much fun, they were sad to see the camp come to an end. “I really liked the electric part, I like using the circuits and figuring out different things,” said one of the boys.

“We got to do a lot of activities,” said one of the girls. “Building the hovercraft was really fun.”cast of thumb

Bob Cassidy, director of curriculum, analytical studies, and accreditation, sent both of his children to the camp. His 15-year-old son served as a helper. “The chance to see the labs, learn in more detail what the different engineering fields encompass, eat in the commons, and just spend time doing stuff on a college campus has been very helpful for him, as he begins to think about college,” said Cassidy.

For his daughter, a 7th grader, Bob said, “The camp gave her a chance to do engineering in a creative and interactive way (which she likes) and to get a broader perspective on what engineers do. And she's really enjoyed it. She's been excited about what they've built. On the first day, they learned how to make some basic circuits and have 16 segment displays show her initials. She came home and wanted to learn how to do new things with the circuits. That's as good an outcome as I could have hoped for - and she's been as enthusiastic about the other projects each day.”index card structure

 “It’s been good,” said one boy, showing off his plastic thumb. He says he’ll probably be an engineer when he grows up.

A special thank you to the Broadcom Foundation for sponsoring 10 children for FABcamp. For the week in photos, visit the school’s Facebook, www.facebook.com/ucirvineengineering.