New Energy Camp features race cars, robot Frisbee, red cabbage

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - Some South Mississippi children are having an "electrifying" time this week. They are taking part in the first Energy Camp at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College in Jackson County. Their fun and educational activities ranged from car racing to robotics.

Have you ever played Frisbee with a robot?  On Thursday, 16 guys and gals competed to see who can catch the most flying discs. They had to apply their knowledge of motion and gravity.

"When the Frisbee was launched, what goes up must come down, and where the Frisbee landed is very important to the competition," said Camp Instructor Virginia McLaughlin.

Then, it was time to start their engines and put their race cars to the test. The fifth and sixth graders designed and built their own cars using tiny K-nex pieces. They also had to figure out a way to move their vehicles.

"I built a pull string motor," said one girl.

"The electricity in the batteries that make the wheels turn," a young man said.

"This is the deflectors that turn the wheels and the gears," explained another boy.

The J.C. campus of MGCCC in Gautier and Mississippi Power hosted the Energy Camp.

"It has been very exciting. The kids have been learning all about energy and electricity and having guest speakers from Mississippi Power, linemen to electrical engineers," said McLaughin.

One guest, a chemical technician at Plant Daniel, demonstrated how different solutions can change the Ph level in red cabbage extract.  He used dry ice and baking soda.

"Ooh, that's weird," one boy commented as his purple liquid started to foam up.

When asked about the best part of the camp so far, Hannah Cole replied, "All the fun things we get to do, the fun experiments, and all the fun visitors we've had."

The Energy Camp is already sparking creativity and generating an interest in future careers in engineering, science and technology.

"A lot of creativity, thinking outside the box, them stepping up and saying, 'I want homework. Give me homework,'" said McLaughlin. "We have been wanting to produce this camp here for several years. It's been a dream."

On Friday, the children will take a tour of Plant Daniel in Hurley to see how energy is produced and used to power your home.

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