Tag Archives: Camp

Glow-in-the-Dark Fun

Everybody has seen glow-in-the-dark stars on a ceiling somewhere, but it’s different when you can get an entire wall to glow. It’s even better when you get AstroCamp celebrities acting ridiculous in front of it.

Scientifically, this wall glows because of its phosphorescence. This happens as the wall’s atoms absorb the energy they receive when light hits them. In AstroCamp’s case, it is a big flash bulb that sends out this light. This energy excites the electrons around the atom, moving them in new and strange ways. These electrons want to cool down, returning themselves to their more natural orbits around the atom, but they need to get rid of some of their excess energy in order to do so. This is where the glow-in-the-dark part comes in. One way for the atoms to rid themselves of excess energy is to send small, usually green photons off into the wider world. These tiny chunks of light enter our eyes and we’re left staring at glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling or staring at the shadows in front of a glow-in-the-dark wall.

Here are just a few of the fun shots from our fun with our Phosphorescent Wall:


Here is what our Phosphorescent Wall looks like in action: Don’t worry no one was harmed in the making of this video!

Happy Thanksgiving 2014

Today at Guided Discoveries we are thankful for so many things. Thank you to Ross and Kristi Turner who started it all over 35 years ago. Please watch these videos to find out just a few of the things we are thankful for at AstroCamp and CIMI. Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!



NASA’s Orion Spacecraft AstroCamp Style

NASA’s first launch of Orion draws closer!

The new spacecraft is fascinating, and models of it were difficult to find, so we designed our own! This is the result!

For those of you who don’t know, Orion is NASA’s new spacecraft, filling the role of the retired space shuttle program. It is designed with versatility in mind, so if you go searching for pictures of it, you are likely to find lots of different things. In the video, the red piece that snaps on top is the Orion capsule, and is included in any of the pictures you will find, but the other modular parts change drastically.

One of the lesser known features is the Launch Abort System, which attaches to the top of the capsule during its ride into space on a Delta Heavy Rocket. Future launches will instead use the Space Launch System (SLS) which is still in development. The Launch Abort System is an added safety mechanism designed to pull the capsule–and crew inside–away should anything go wrong with the rocket behind them! This is the gray piece on the top.

The bottom gray pieces are the propulsion system. This is probably the most widely varied part of the Orion Spacecraft in pictures that you will see. The solar panels fold out–a feature that didn’t quite make it into the 3D printed version (although they do fold on a single hinge!) and that portion can also separate from the larger propulsion system sitting below.

Perhaps if there is interest, we’ll put together another video showing how each of the components work!

NASA’s Orion Spacecraft will make its first foray into space on December 4th, from Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex!

Darth Vader and a Tesla Coil

What do Darth Vader and Tesla have in Common? Well the answer is AstroCamp!

We had a little fun playing with our giant Tesla Coil as Darth Vader from Star Wars.  The tesla coil is the most iconic and well known invention from the proud inventor Nikola Tesla. Tesla’s inventions helped pioneer the modern use of Alternating Current electricity or AC.  Most of his inventions made use of high voltage high frequency electricity.  The tesla coil appropriately named after Nikola is an excellent example of such a device.

The coil uses a property of electromagnetism called “inductance” to create a high voltage current.  The process begins by sending a low voltage current through a primary coil of wire that has a few turns in the wire.  If the electricity is AC current, it will create a magnetic field inside the coil.  If a secondary coil of wire wrapped just above the primary coil, the magnetic field created by the first coil will create a new current of electricity in the secondary coil.  When the secondary coil of wire has significantly more turns of wire in it than the primary, the voltage will be increase many times over.  The increase in voltage will cause the tesla coil to discharge the classic bolts of lightning from the top.

Tesla imagined that this setup could be used to transfer energy wirelessly from one place to another.  Sadly for Tesla, the idea never caught on.  Part of this might be due to the large amounts of noise that the tesla coil produces.  It might also be due to the fact that the bolts of electricity could be very dangerous if they were to hit a person.  Still, the Darth Vader controlled Tesla Coil never fails to impress an audience, which is something that would probably make Tesla proud.

Summer Camp Registration Open

AstroCamp, our premier science and adventure program for summer camp in California is now open for camper registration. Register now and you will receive last year’s rates, a savings of up to $255.00. This amazing savings will ONLY be available until December 31st. You can choose from one or two-week sessions.

The 1-week campers ages 8-14 will spend their mornings at our core activities such as rockets, the study of meteors, solar energy, GPS treasure hunting and much, much more. The afternoon is comprised of designing your own adventure. All of AstroCamp’s activities are hands-on and designed for campers to build their scientific knowledge, independence, and confidence as well as enjoy their time with friends and our professional staff.

One-Week Session 1:  June 13 – 19 *      $1,050.00
One-Week Session 2:  June 20 – 26        $1,150.00
One-Week Session 3:  June 27 – July 3   $1,150.00

Rates: *AstroCamp Session 1 is $1,050.00 (Sign up before December 31st and pay last year’s rate $850.00). AstroCamp Sessions 2 and 3 are $1,150.00 each (Sign up before December 31st and pay last year’s rate of $950.00)

The 2-week campers ages 10-17 design their own schedules by choosing from more than 40 different activities including new classes such as Dungeons and Dragons, LARPing, blacksmithing plus many more. Beyond all of the great science, adventure, and hands-on activities that campers experience throughout the day, the camp fun continues with our unique social program. Each night campers engage in campfire activities, including a carnival, olympics, and a dance.

Two-Week Session 1:  July 5 – 17     $2,150.00
Two-Week Session 2:  July 19 – 31   $2,150.00

Rate: $2,150.00 (Sign up before December 31st and pay last year’s rate of $1,895.00)

Space is limited so turn in your NON-REFUNDABLE deposit of $200 now. We can’t wait to welcome your camper for an experience of a lifetime!

Blacksmithing – You Bend Metal

“We’re going to take hot metal, and we’re going to bend it to our will!” That is the motto for the Blacksmith class at AstroCamp summer mission.  We take rods of iron; heat them up in our very own forge to a scalding temperature of well over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and pound them into a shape of our choosing. Dragon’s breath is the name of the scorching air escaping the heat of the forge and it is truly powerful. As we pound and twist the metal, see the impurities in the iron flake off and flutter down to the ground. At the completion of your project, dowse your masterpiece in the cold water and see the steam sizzling off of your completed project.

We create items both practical and decorative. For those that are musically inclined, Max made a treble clef.  Zack made a belt buckle that was both beautiful and useful.  Your imagination can help you make amazing things, you just have to follow it.  At the end of camp, take your work home with you to show your family and friends your newfound skill in blacksmithing. Now that you are a Blacksmith and you can bend metal what will your next project be?

5 Step DIY Tie Dye T-Shirts

DIY Tie Dye shirts are very popular here at AstroCamp especially during summer camp.  We want to take you through the process of making one of these awesome shirts. Only 5 Steps and your done!

Step 1: Make a solution of water and soda ash and soak the T shirt in it for 20 minutes.  The soda ash will bond with the dye and cause it to permanently stick to the fabric.  If you do not have soda ash then baking soda will work as a substitute but your colors won’t be quite as bright.


Step 2:  Twist and twirl and otherwise be creative with your shirt and rubber band it into place.  Different swirling patterns will change the pattern of the finished product.  This shirt will end up in a bulls eye pattern.


Step 3:  Apply the dye to the shirt.  The rubber bands can often be good guides for where to stop with one color and start another.


Step 4: Wrap the shirt in saran wrap and let it sit overnight.  After that rinse and hang the shirt until it is dry and ready to wear!


Step 5: Show it off to all of your friends!  ENJOY! If you want to do the same process then you can create tie dye pillow cases, bandanas, pants and more. Enjoy!

Liquid Nitrogen Pool Exploration


At AstroCamp, we love exploring and testing theories. So what do we do when we have excess liquid nitrogen from our summer camp program that will evaporate before we can use it again?  Why we do some experiments of course!  Our favorite recent experiment was dumping the left over liquid nitrogen into the pool.  We thought we were going to get a lot of condensation from the water vapor coming into contact with the cold liquid nitrogen.  What we forgot to take into account was the Leidenfrost Effect.  The Leidenfrost Effect occurs when a liquid comes into contact with a surface much hotter than it.  Because of the drastic change in temperature, the liquid that comes into contact with the surface boils near instantly.  But the boiled gas creates a buffer for the rest of the liquid and keeps it from evaporating for a while longer. In the pool, this allows the liquid nitrogen to spread across the surface of the water, expanding the fog until it nearly covers the pool entirely.  Stay tuned for future fun things to do with liquid nitrogen exploration!


We would like to thank you for visiting our blog. AstroCamp is a hands-on physical science program with an emphasis on astronomy and space exploration. Our classes and activities are designed to inspire students toward future success in their academic and personal pursuits. This blog is intended to provide you with up-to-date news and information about our camp programs, as well as current science and astronomical happenings. This blog has been created by our staff who have at least a Bachelors Degree in Physics or Astronomy, however it is not uncommon for them to have a Masters Degree or PhD. We encourage you to also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, and Vine to see even more of our interesting science, space and astronomy information. Feel free to leave comments, questions, or share our blog with others. Please visit www.astrocampschool.org for additional information. Happy Reading!