Michigan Tech’s Mind Trekkers are on the road again—taking the magic and mystery of science and engineering to the National Boy Scout Jamboree July 15–23 at Summit Bechtel Reserve in Mt. Hope, W.Va. It’s the first stop as they trek their hands-on science show to festivals across the nation, culminating at Science Spark’s USA Science & Engineering Festival in April 2014 in Washington, DC.
At the Boy Scout Jamboree’s Technology Quest, where as many as 50,000 Scouts and visitors are expected, Mind Trekkers’ 13 student volunteers and two staff members will be performing some of their favorite demos and some new ones too. They’ll be showing the Scouts how to walk on water—well, to walk on liquid anyway—dashing across and sinking into ooblek, a Newtonian fluid that acts like a solid when pressure is applied.
They’ll be firing a ping pong ball right through a soda can, without using explosives. They’ll demonstrate how static electricity can be a hair-raising experience, and they’ll be showing how—and explaining why—you can poke nails through a balloon without popping it.
It’s an encore performance for Michigan Tech. Mind Trekkers was a hit at the last Boy Scout Jamboree in 2010.
Mind Trekkers is all about getting kids of all ages hooked on science and engineering. "We want to ignite each student’s passion to discover the science behind the mystery of what they are experiencing in an informal STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) setting," says Steve Patchin, founder and head of Mind Trekkers at Michigan Tech.
As the national USA Science & Engineering Festival’s first on-the-road partners, Mind Trekkers will also take their science and engineering show to the Bay Area Science Festival in San Francisco in October, the Philadelphia Science Festival in Philadelphia and the Fairfax County Schools Festival in Virginia in April 2014, all leading up to the national festival itself, produced by the nonprofit Science Spark in Washington, DC, next April.
"We both believe that the best way to unlock this passion is by creating a high-energy, non-traditional learning environment where each student’s natural inquisitiveness generates an unbridled desire to search for answers to what they can’t explain," Patchin says.