by Brian Hagberg
50th Space Wing Public Affairs
7/9/2015 - SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- The Schriever School Age Program capped off its Science Camp by launching several model Estes rockets here July 2.
The launches were the final part of a mock event designed to help students learn about multiple scientific disciplines.
"The kids are scientists the whole week," said Sam Birchenough, Monahan
LLC Science Camp staff member. "The first day they're coming to this
conference [and] they get name tags with different scientific jobs. Then
there is this crisis, an impact. The rest of the week is spent trying
to solve this problem and figure out what happened."
Birchenough said the crisis is a meteorite strike and students must use
the scientific method to determine exactly what happened. Each day is
dedicated to using a different science to help solve various problems
that occur as a result of the strike.
"A lot of day one is on scientific method, [which they then apply] to find out what happened," he said.
The rest of the week covers topics such as robotics, biology,
electronics, astronomy and rocketry. Because they were here during a
holiday week, Birchenough said they skipped the electronics and
astronomy portions in order to allow for the rocket launches.
"This week, because they had [Friday] off for the holiday, we skipped
the Thursday session and just moved rockets to Thursday because that's
more exciting," he said. "We build little model Estes rockets and [the
students] launch them. That's usually the highlight of the week."
Typically, the science camp staff will have a program for youth age 9-12
and a separate program for youth 13-18 but tweaked them to fit
Schriever's SAP demographics.
"We only have youth up to age 12," said Vicki Rygiel, School Age Program
coordinator. "Because we don't have a lot of 9-12 year-olds, we opened
it up to 8 year-olds."
The 14 participants in the camp were divided into teams of three or
four, with each team designing its own hypothesis, experiments, robots
In addition to the rockets, students also built LEGO robots (in order to
pick up radioactive materials for testing) and dissected frogs (to
learn if material from the meteorite had caused infections in local
"They get to learn a little bit of anatomy because we go over external
and internal anatomy and we always try to tie it back to the story of
the meteorite," said Gabriel Diaz, Monahan LLC Science Camp staff
member. "We put a little bit of germ glow on organs they took out. When
they're looking at it under the microscope, we have them shine a UV
light on it and they can see it's glowing and it's infected."
Rygiel said the science camp staff takes time to explain how the
experiments work, and why they're important in the context of the mock
"This is a full educational program," Rygiel said. "We're fortunate to have them."
Other SAP staff noticed how well the science camp staff was able to keep students focused throughout the week.
"These guys are awesome," said Kristin Moseley, SAP program assistant.
"They kept the kids engaged all week. They've been pretty cool."
Rygiel said the Science Camp is one of three Air Force funded theme
camps scheduled for the summer. In June, the SAP held a music camp that
allowed students to learn about recording and video editing and create
their own music video or CD. The Missoula Theatre Company will be here
July 27-31 to help youth present "Black Beard and the Pirates."
The Schriever SAP is open to children ages 5-12, who have started
kindergarten. Children of active duty military, reservists on active
duty orders, Department of Defense appropriated and non-appropriated
fund employees and contractors working on Schriever are eligible to
The summer program will continue until Aug. 14. Before and after school
care and daily school bus transportation is available to children
attending Ellicott School District 22. Children residing in other
districts are eligible for care on scheduled school closures and snow
For more information, or to register your child, contact Rygiel at 567-4742.