Chemical apple pie tricks taste buds at science camp

Chemical apple pie, chemical apple pie, kind of sounds like something that may just make you die.

Actually, despite the name and the fact that it doesn't contain any actual apples, a participant at the WISE Kid-Netic Energy science camp held at Thompson's Deerwood Elementary School July 7-11 says this lab-designed version of the dessert tasted surprisingly authentic.

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"I really didn't think it was going to taste like apples because it had crackers in it, so it was like, 'Oh, this tastes really good,'" said Kyler Timmons, who attends Riverside School. "I was really surprised. I wouldn't know. I would think that there were apples in there."

The chemical apple pie was one of the hands-on projects camp participants completed on July 8, the food science and nutrition-themed day, says Michelle Carriere, WISE Kid-Netic Energy's recruitment and outreach officer, who is partway though a biosystems engineering degree and has been an instructor at similar camps for the past two years.

"So we didn't use any apples at all for this and it tasted and looked exactly like apple pie and the kids had a lot of fun with that," Carriere says. "We used cream of tartar, sugar, cinnamon, soda crackers and we used a pie crust also. I think I'm missing one ingredient but that's the majority of it."

The camp opened with a zoology and ecology theme.

"We dissected an earthworm just to see how their internal organs are set up which was extremely cool," said Carriere. "The kids even got to pin it down and even be able to take the organs out of the earthworm. We also made bead buddies in order to represent different animals that you can study in ecology and also animals you can take care of in zoology. We also tell the kids all about the different kinds of jobs that they can get in those different theme days as well."

Other activities during the week included investigating the science behind sports and constructing tunnels in a brick of clay.

"Then they'd get a big bag of clay and then they put it on top of it and if it crushed down, you wouldn't get the point," says camp participant Jordan Foley, who attends Deerwood during the school year.

Based at the University of Manitoba, WISE Kid-Netic Energy is a member of Actua, a Canadian charity that delivers science, technology, engineering and mathematics programming to over 200,000 Canadian youth each year, with financial support from organizations such as the Suncor Energy Foundation, GE Canada, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and Shell Canada. The Thompson camp was sponsored by Vale, so campers paid only about $110 for the week, instead of as much as $180.*

Carriere says she loves the way kids react to the programming at the camp, which is different from how science may be taught at school.

"It's the best opportunity for the kids during the summer to have fun, but also learn, " she said. "They don't know they're learning but they are and just having like a different type of pace during the summer, too. It's not like school. We have a lot of fun out here."

"I think, for them, just being able to do it themselves instead of being told how it's done, it helps enrich them a lot so that they can see, 'Oh, this is actually how you do it,' and having them create something themselves it just makers them really happy and they get a whole bunch of take home stuff as well," said Carriere. "Yesterday we also made an edible animal cell out of Jell-O and we used some candy to represent the different parts of the cell and we went through the cell structure with them as well. So not only are they having fun and getting stuff to eat after, they also learn about things. Even though they're only in Grade 4, 5 and 6 they are very smart and they absorb everything that you tell them."

Timmons and Foley were enthusiastic about their experience.

"This camp is awesome and I wanted to go and I hope that I could come in here next year," said Timmons, who was enrolled in the camp for the second time.

It was the first time for Foley, who was also enjoying himself.

"I think it's really neat," he said. "I like the programs and the things we do here. I think it's a lot more exciting [than school] and I get to meet new people. It feels like we're doing fun stuff. We're also doing experiments."

* The article originally read: "The Thompson camp was also sponsored by Vale, so campers paid only about $110 for the week, instead of as much as $180." Vale was the sole financial supporter of the camp in Thompson. The Thompson Citizenapologizes for the error.

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