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Second Day of Camp: Making Headlines and Building Zip-lines

We started our day off at the prime hour of 7AM when some of the girls decided to run morning workouts. We were then served another delicious breakfast of omelets, roti, rice, curry, cookies, bananas, melon, yogurt, rolls, coffee, tea, and an assortment of tropical fruit juices (should follow up with the foodies of the group for more specific traditional names). We then traveled in the Walchandnagar company vans to the Bharat Children’s Academy.

For our first activity of the day, we presented the students with the Zip-line Challenge. Their task was to create two different structures made from paper cups, straws, skewers, paper, cardboard, washers, and tape to transport a Ping Pong ball down a wire.

One structure was supposed to travel down the line as fast as possible, and the other as slow as possible (as long as it did not get stuck for over a minute). The students were given time to construct and test their structures in the classrooms, and then everyone met outside on the stage for the overall competition. The 16 different groups all came up with a variety of very creative designs, and after declaring the winners we gave a talk about the Physics principles behind the challenge. We explained the concepts of air resistance, friction, gravity, and center of mass and how heavier more compacts structures would travel faster down the wire, while larger, lighter structures with wing-like features and tape directly contacting the wire to increase friction would travel the slowest. We also discussed the importance of developing a well-balanced system that did not bob back and forth and thus traveled smoothly down the wire.

While the students ate their lunches in their neatly packed tins we sat down and talked with the students, and many of them were eager to share some of their food. Many of the students are only a year or two younger than some of us. The boys were very excited to talk about their favorite video games and professional cricket teams, and the girls spoke of their favorite hobbies—reading, sports, and music—and even tried to teach us phrases in the three languages they speak: Maharati, Hindi, and Sanskrit.

After the students finished their break, we introduced the next activity to work on their English-speaking skills. The activity was to simulate the 1000 Pitches challenge conducted as the University of Michigan. Students introduced themselves to the class and spoke about their interests and future career goals.

After our lunch break we met in groups to speak with the Bharat Academy teachers and administrators again. Topics ranged from the American education system, the University of Michigan admissions process, global politics and the relations between the United States and India, the American law enforcement system, Indian and American culture and customs such as arranged marriages, athletics, celebrities, and a type of traditional art called Mehendi (also known as Henna tattoos).

We were also told we had made Indian headlines in two different newspapers. The articles listed all of our names and described the purpose of our trip as delegates from the Society of Women Engineers at the University of Michigan running a summer engineering camp at Bharat Children’s Academy in Walchandnagar, India.

We then returned home to the Walchandnagar guest house and had meetings about our activities for the next day before dinner. For dinner we had rice, curry chicken, potato pea curry, shrimp curry, roti, yogurt, bananas, and ice cream.

We can’t wait for tomorrow’s adventures!

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