Curriculum: Weekly Themes

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Week 1: May 26-29

Maker Party: Makers Gonna Make! 

In this week-long maker party, kids get to test drive all of the fun tools we have, honing them into lean, mean, dream-making machines. 

By the end of the week campers will:

  • ·  Master screen-printing and be on their way to creating their own personalized Spark summer t-shirt. Yes, they create and screen-print their shirts by themselves!
  • ·  Gain cardboard construction skills that pave the way to earning Spark’s Try-Try-Try Again Badge.
  • ·  Learn the basics of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and 3-D printing, laying the groundwork for Spark’s 5-step design process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create and Reimagine. 
  • ·  Be challenged to create and work together designing, building and crafting whatever their brains dream up!

What they are learning:
21st Century Skills: Creativity, Problem Solving, Communication, Resilience and Collaboration


Week 2: June 1-5

Insects: Villain or Hero?

Most kids think of insects as pests. Some might even call them gross, slimy or dangerous. What if we told you that some insects are actually heroes? Consider bees…fuzzy, buzzy and a flowering plant’s BFF; their superhero power: sticky hair. 

A bee’s life is tough. Their kryptonite: insecticide. So, what happens when the system is broken and bees don’t show up? We need you to design a self-pollinator machine to help. 

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Explore and discuss the field of agricultural engineering.
  • · Read and act out the roles of insects, farmers and agricultural engineers in a play.
  • · Test the efficacy of various materials for picking up and dropping off “pollen” represented by baking soda.
  • · Design, build and test their own hand pollinators.
  • · Have a massive amount of fun and perhaps save the world?!?

What they are learning:
Science: Lifescycles
Engineering: Basics of Industrial Design
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analytics
Social Studies: Global Agricultural Issues, Culture of the Dominican Republic


Week 3: June 8-12

Simple Machines: The Ultimate Easy Button

Have you ever wished you had go-go gadget arms, or better yet a magic genie with unlimited wishes to make your chores disappear?  We can all agree that some jobs are just not fun, but we can make them easier.

Guess what, machines are like the ultimate easy button: lifting incredible weights, moving objects at unthinkable speeds, and reducing friction. This week we challenge you to dream up a machine that does the heavy lifting while you barely lift a finger. Simple, right?

By the end of the week campers will:

  • ·   Discover the machines around them hidden in plain sight.
  • ·   Participate in a competition where they are challenged to complete a job with and without a team using the assembly line method.
  • ·   Get hands-on experience where they actually feel the difference in effort required to move an object when we change the simple machine used.
  • ·  Design and build a machine to improve the system for moving heavy objects from the “loading dock” to the “factory floor.”
  • ·  Learn how to work smarter while being challenged to think differently!

What they are learning:
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analytics, Measurement
Technology: Tool Application and Variation
Social Studies: History of Assembly Lines, History and Geography of Boston, Massachusetts


Week 4: June 15-19

Robotics & Coding: Bots, Bytes and Bolts

The future is now! Let’s  explore and make our very own robots to control the world around us. No prior robotics or coding experience necessary. Robot dancing and robotic voice effects are highly encouraged. 

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Use coding tools to command a variety of their own robot designs.
  • · Test how the mechanics and structure of a robot affects its function and completion of tasks.
  • · Leverage their knowledge of electric and circuitry to enhance their designs. 
  • · Have had a blast making a new robot friend along with IRL ones!

What they are learning:
Engineering: How to use engineering thinking routines to test and retest their designs
Technology: How digital and physical components work together to accomplish tasks
Science: Properties of Electricity


Week 5: June 22-26

Human Body: If the Shoe Fits.

Shoes should fit perfectly, just ask Zion Williamson or Cinderella. This week we’ll step inside the shoes of biomedical engineers and design technologies that solve problems related to biology, health and medicine. 

They’ll make recommendations to a fictional athletic company on the types of shoes they should produce, or design and test knee braces to ensure quality and longevity. This week is all about working with  side[kicks] to imagine, plan, create, test, evaluate and improve together as a team. 

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Learn about how tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones work together.
  • · Identify and discuss how the material of objects solve problems.
  • · Examine their feet and classmates’ feet to collect data about the range of foot shapes, sizes, and arch heights.
  • · Compare and contrast the range of motion of their own bodies to a model of an injured knee.
  • · Discover how creativity is influenced by object materials and the problem at hand...or foot!

What they are learning:
Engineering: Rehabilitative Engineering
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analysis
Social Studies: Germany


Week 6: June 29-July 2

Earth Materials: Sticky Material Mash-Ups

The world is full of famous combos: peanut butter and jelly, Phineus and Ferb, glass-fiber reinforced polymers, wait...what?!? Yep just like the ooey gooey cheese to the macaroni, materials with different properties come together to create something even more awesome. 

Things are bound to get sticky on our quest to discover how to develop the ideal mortar. Join us for this get-your-hands dirty week where we’ll combine different materials to make mortar and predict which walls will hold and which ones will fall.

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Discover and discuss the connections between earth materials like clay, soil and sand and their uses in human design.
  • · Learn about the 13,171 mile-long engineering feat that is the Great Wall of China.
  • · Predict how combining specific materials will result in a new product with different properties. 
  • · Design, construct and test the strength of the mortar they engineer.
  • · Perfect the combo of learning and summer fun, all while playing in the mud, err mortar!

What they are learning:
Science: Forming Hypothesis
Engineering: Properties of Materials
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analytics
Social Studies: Ancient CIvilizations, Great Wall of China


Week 7: July 6-10

Magnetism: The Force of Magnets Awakens

Have you ever seen a train levitate? How about one that disappears from sight because it boasts speeds of up to 268 mph, practically light years ahead of the trains we are familiar with?  Magnetic levitation or maglev trains for short, utilize the power of magnets to float over the tracks. Basically they have all of the force and none of the friction.

The force is strong, and if more magnets are added, it becomes stronger. Harness the power of magnets this week as you develop, test and improve your own maglev transportation systems.

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Explore the connections between the properties of magnets.
  • · Model and improve a traffic intersection utilizing our power of observation.
  • · Draw conclusions about magnets like how opposite magnetic poles attract and like poles repel.
  • · Create maglev traffic systems where magnets are used to move pennies from one side of the track to the other as safely and efficiently as possible.
  • · Feel the pull (and the push) as we explore the cause and effect of using magnets.

What they are learning:
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analysis
Social Studies: Japan, Socio-Economic Effects of Transportation Systems


Week 8: July 13-17

Electricity: Alarming Energy

Energy is the ability to make change happen. From Edison to Tesla, the first power grid to evolving cupcakes batter to its final form, the ability to harness energy is, well, powerful. 

Getting hot, making alarms sound, lighting up; what would you tell electricity to do? We’re sounding the alarm, get excited it’s time to power up!

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Embark on an electricity  scavenger hunt concluding with the class creating a large scale diagram of the energy transformations taking place. 
  • · See change happen right before their eyes as they observe the power of open and closed circuits. 
  • · Build their own circuits based on a schematic design using batteries, bulbs, wires; and open and closed switches. 
  • · Design an alarm circuit and troubleshoot what works and what doesn’t.
  • · Have tons of “light bulb” moments and build lifelong reasoning skills!

What they are learning: 
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analytics
Technology: Systems Thinking
Engineering: Properties of Materials
Social Studies: Australia


Week 9: July 20-24

Sound: Seeing Animal Sounds

Can you see an animal talk? And no, we’re not talking about Chloe teaching Gidget how to be a cat in the Secret Life of Pets 2

What if you were in charge of writing out their language? Imagine what that would look like. How would you sketch the song of a bird in trouble or mimic the song of a bird out for an afternoon flight? We need your help to see and decode the sounds animals make in real life. 

By the end of the week campers will:

  • · Learn how sounds are made by vibrations traveling through matter.
  • · Identify possible ways to represent sound.
  • · Discuss and compare multiple ways to visually represent the same sound.
  • · Create a representation system for a bird call using symbols.
  • · Made a lot of fun and noise!

What they are learning: 
Mathematics: Problem Solving, Data Analysis
Engineering: Acoustical Engineering
Art: Principles of Representation
Social Studies: Culture of Ghana, Ghananian Drumming, Geography of Africa


Week 10: July 27-31

Virtual Reality: Into the Unknownnnnnnnn!

Have you ever wanted to explore the bottom of the ocean or see what it is’t like to look deep inside a volcano? Together we'll grab hold of adventure; going into the unknown. You'll use VR to first explore and bring back all kinds of inspiration to design your own virtual reality creation! 

Back by popular demand, last year’s students created everything from mazes to futuristic cars yet to be built to replicas of their favorite characters like Thanos and Queen Elsa. But that was last year. Get ready for a whole new challenge! Learn how to solve digital-to-physical design challenges and become the master of creating tomorrow. 

By the end of the week campers will:

  • ·  Explore far off places and times using VR.
  • · Use CAD to create a structure, sculpture, or whatever their mighty brains imagine.
  • · View and redesign their creation in virtual reality.
  • · Find out that their imagination has no bounds in sculpting the future! 

What they are learning:
Technology: Tool Use (CAD and VR)
Mathematics: Measurement and Scale
Engineering: Engineering Habits of Mind
Art: Creativity and Communication



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