Tag Archives: Summer

How Does Sunscreen Work?

Summer camp is underway here at AstroCamp and one of the things campers get told time and time again is to wear sunscreen. We all know that sunscreen helps prevent sunburns and skin cancer, but how?


Well, sunscreen is composed of a mix of organic and inorganic compounds that work together to limit our exposure to the ultraviolet light streaming at us from the sun. The inorganic compounds, including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, act like a bunch of microscopic mirrors, reflecting or scattering the UV light before it can reach our skin. The organic molecules absorb the UV light instead of letting our skin absorb it. Absorbing this radiation slowly breaks down the organic molecules, which is why you need to reapply sunscreen after a while.

sunscreen 2

To visualize that, we put a piece of black construction paper out in the sun for a few hours. Half of the paper was covered in sunscreen and half was left blank, with the bottle crossing the border between both halves. You can clearly see that the area covered in sunscreen held its dark color much better than the side left unprotected. In fact, the area coated in sunscreen is almost as dark as the section under the bottle, which took no UV damage.

For those of you who remember our piece on bleach, you’ll know that the pigments we see come from chemicals called chromophores. Unlike in that video, however, the source of breaking up the chromophores in the paper is UV radiation. It was absorbed into the paper and broke apart the bonds in the chromophores, causing the paper to fade; this is much like how it damages our cells, causing them to potentially create defective cells which may eventually lead to skin cancer.

So remember, if you’re going into harsh sunlight, make sure you have sunscreen on.

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!