Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day #113/175 Days - Field Trip

Today we headed north early. It was far too early for me and about half the people in the van I was driving. However, it was one of the best field trips we have ever done. I was so glad I managed to persevere and go. I almost backed out at the last minute. Thankfully I didn't.

Last year we joined a local 4-H group. We've had so many great opportunities due to this involvement. This past fall my boys participated in a "Money Camp." This was the chance to learn about running a business. The kids were encouraged to come up with a product, create it, and market it. The final test was selling them at local craft fairs during the holiday season.

Today's field trip was a follow-up to that. We were invited to the University of Maine at Orono (my and hubby's alma mater) to attend two college classes on innovated engineering.

In the morning we went to the INV 180 class. This was a class of students who are learning how to come up with a marketable product or idea. All the 4-H kids (all the ones who attended were homeschooled and it was fantastic to watch them interact with these older college students) were paired up with a table of INV 180 students. The college students helped them troubleshoot their Money Camp products. I, of course, was simply a chaperone so I went around snapping photos.

Conductor got right down to business and made this table about a dozen paper airplanes.

This group of students helped Lego-Man work on his concept for making video games.

After class ended we stayed in the Foster Center and enjoyed a catered lunch. While we waited for this to get set-up one of the graduate students come in and talked about the product he is working on. He has invented a way for ships to convert recycle energy on board. He showed the kids his prototype and they loved it! Simply by touching the "solar panel" they generated electricity as measured by a volt meter.

Conductor checking how much electricity he is generating.

Of course, the most fun was in the downtime between after lunch and the start of the next class. The center wants to help foster creativity and understands that too much "thinking" leads to burnout. For this reason they have a ping-pong table, foose-ball table, and a Wii. I nixed the Wii but the kids were able to play on the foose-ball and ping-pong table and for many, this was their favorite part of their day!

After lunch the kids joined in on the INV 282 class. This is writing course - technical writing at its core. Again, the 4-H kids were placed with a table of college students. The college students were to take the idea sheets generated at the morning class and write up a marketing plan for each of the 4-H students. They will be emailed to us when complete. 

Then we headed over to the test kitchen on campus. One of the girls in our 4-H group loves to bake. She had brought some mint whoopie pies for us to try out. We were showed the "proper" way to taste test. They were all great!

The 4-H'ers were shown how food is tested in the kitchen - everything from water content to mold growth. It was really cool. We were all then taken to a large lab upstairs and given a tour of some of that equipment as well. It was a very neat place. 

Near the end of the day we were also given a tour of the baking kitchens on campus (so jealous - they are huge) and the campus' commercial kitchen. They have some very neat pieces of equipment in there. Everything from a milk pasteurizing machine to a huge "seal-a-meal" machine. We were even given a demonstration on that one. The lab tech shrink wrapped his keys, his id, and a piece of paper towel at 75% oxygen removal. Then the did another piece of paper at 99% removal. The last one looked laminated it was that strong!

They ended their day in the flash freezer (30 minutes to freeze most things). They look cold!

While it was a long day, it was also a great day. I'm so glad we went and the kids were awesome. Thanks, guys!

After the long day out, we still went to AWANA that night. All told we were gone for 14 hours from the house today.

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