A 12-year-old student recounts her experience at the week-long Minds Inspired Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture summer camp held July 31 – Aug. 4, 2017.
I walked into the classroom with butterflies in my stomach. I didn’t know if I was going to know anyone there or if anyone my age was attending the summer camp. Though I was anxious, I felt myself becoming more at ease when I saw many smiles and a few familiar faces. There was a group of people from my school, but they were all older than me. I was definitely one of the few 12-year-olds there, but I decided to not let that bother me.
We introduced ourselves, which made me feel welcomed. Then we dove right into the learning component of the course. We started with the basics of engineering, which I found intriguing. After that, we were assigned to teams to build boats with the tools and materials given to us. I found it fun as it taught us how to work with limited equipment. Shortly after, we built our sail-powered ships and we put them in action using the pool on the compound. We tested speed, survival, and how much weight and mass it could carry. My team lost but it motivated me to work harder. We went over some key points about building a boat and made improvements for our boat. One of my group’s improvements was to make a streamlined bow.
We learned more about the science behind engineering and how things work the way they do. We learned about structures and how to stabilise them using triangles instead of squares. We did an exercise on which structure could hold the most weight. That experiment helped us to get ready for our functioning drawbridge task. The mission for us was to create a drawbridge that could be lifted or lowered. We tested how much weight it could carry.
We began the day learning about engineering with circuits and electricity. We considered types of circuits such as series and parallel and for what purpose each one was used. We worked on circuits to get a better understanding of voltage, current and resistance. Soon after that exercise was completed, we were given our largest and last assignment — to build a remote-controlled, motor-powered boat made of plywood. We spent the rest of the day planning on what we were going to do with our materials and equipment, and planning our measurements.
In the individual groups, some people built the woodwork and structure of the boat, while the others in the group worked on the technical and electric part to make the remote control and motors work. We applied our newfound knowledge from the first day on boats to our improved ships. My group finished our boat early so that we could have time the next day to decorate, improve and fix any problems. I believe this was a good decision as we did encounter some problems the next day.
On the last day of the camp, we had lots of fun. At the start of the day, the groups completed their boats and decorating them. We spent the rest of the morning improving and fixing our boats and preparing them for the competition that afternoon. After we ate our lunch, the competition began. We raced our boats with and without cargo, through obstacles and played tug-of-war. Not only did those scores count to our final mark, but we also got points for our boat design and teamwork. After all our races, we went inside to talk to two of Cayman’s engineers (one naval architecture, the other electrical) which was inspiring. Finally, our final scores were revealed and we got our certificates. My group came second overall and we were very proud of ourselves. I should point out our team was a group of three girls — the only girls at the camp. ‘Girl Power’ was the name we gave our boat.
Go girl power!
Overall, the camp was a great experience and I look forward to doing something related to Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics like this. I feel prepared for the upcoming academic year in the science and math fields, and now I believe this is a career for me to consider for my future.