Bay City students experiment with robotics, food science, watershed dynamics and more

Science Night encourages students, parents to explore sciences.

Students experiment with watershed models to understand the impacts of nonpoint source pollution. Photo: Bay County 4-H
Students experiment with watershed models to understand the impacts of nonpoint source pollution. Photo: Bay County 4-H

More than 40 students and their parents turned out recently for a Science Night organized by Michigan State University Extension with support from Michigan Sea Grant. Families engaged in hands-on experiments to learn about a variety of science fields including engineering, biology, ecology and chemistry. Some of the most popular activities included:

Build a Robot

Using small magnetic robotic blocks called Cubelets, students experimented with the basics of robotics and circuitry. Each block contains a small computer and connects to other blocks via a magnet. By connecting the different block functions students were able to develop simple robots capable of responding to outside stimuli such as light, temperature and motion.

Water Testing

Students saw firsthand how the Bay City Wastewater Treatment Plant filters grey water and returns clean safe water to the Saginaw Bay. They observed the process of separating solids out of grey water and treating the remaining liquid. They measured pH balance in the newly cleaned water and compared it to levels safe for human consumption.

Wetland in a Pan

Students were able to build their own watershed models and then experiment with how different areas of wetland coverage impacted runoff and water quality. They learned about nonpoint source pollution, wetland ecology and watershed dynamics.


Students built simple catapults and practiced launching objects of different weights. They hypothesized as to how different catapult constructions and object densities would impact the distance and trajectory of their launched objects. Through this activity they explored basic physics concepts including force, mass, potential energy and kinetic energy.

Food Science

Students learned about the chemical reactions that transform cream into butter. They each received a small bit of heavy cream in a covered container. Students were asked to shake the container vigorously forcing air into the cream creating bubbles which destabilized the fat. Eventually with enough effort and time this destabilization caused fat globules to clump together and the water in the cream to separate out creating butter.

Michigan State University Extension organizes regular Science Nights featuring these activities and many more at several schools in the Bay City area.

Michigan Sea Grant helps to foster economic growth and protect Michigan’s coastal, Great Lakes resources through education, research and outreach. A collaborative effort of the University of Michigan and Michigan State University, Michigan Sea Grant is part of the NOAA-National Sea Grant network of 33 university-based programs

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