This summer, I dissected a sheep's brain

Participants at Kid-Netic Energy's science, engineering and technology camps in Thompson July 4-11 and July 11-15 had different favourite activities but they seemed to agree on one thing: dissecting a sheep's brain is kind of, well, gross.

"That was pretty gross," said Ashton Majerus, an 11-year-old student at La Voie du Nord, who even admitted turning a little green. "Not my kind of thing."

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"It was really odd to know that that was in your head and it looked weird to really see that there,' said Claire Morissette, 9. who also attends La Voie du Nord. "It was slimy, gushy and it was really gross."

But of course, one person's trash is someone else's treasure.

"The funnest thing is us looking at and dissecting a sheep brain," said Sebastien Soucy, 11, a student at Deerwood School. "It felt very weird and gross. It smells funny. It was pretty hard to cut."

Kid-Netic Energy, which is hosted by the University of Manitoba, is one of 30 member organizations of Actua, which is a national charity that inspires youth through dynamic, interactive hands-on science, engineering and technology programming.

"It's pretty much a science outreach program to get kids more interested in science," says Alana Kennedy, one of the three Kid-Netic instructors leading the camps in Thompson. "These two weeks we've actually run different programming so we've done flight is what's happening today, we've done forensics, famous scientists, marine biology, natural disasters, neuroscience, so we do like a mix of science and engineering programming. We've done a few dissections this week. We've done starfish dissection, we did sheep brain dissection, so those always go over pretty well. They're kind of messy."

Despite the ick factor, says Kennedy, campers did enjoy that activity.

"Well, most of them," she says.

"The ones that didn't turn green seemed to like it," said Andrew Tefs, another instructor.

On July 20, the camp held a community open house to let campers' parents and other interested people have a look at what the camps were all about.

"Vale, they're our sponsor here in Thompson," said Kennedy. "Our community event day was about thanking them."

There was nothing gross or particularly messy on the agenda that day, with activities centring around flight.

"We're doing stuff about flying and airplanes so we're just going to show them how a bottle rocket works," says Tefs. "What you do is you fill a bottle up about halfway with water and then you just pump it full of air and the pressure will just shoot it up in the air once it gets heavy enough."

Soucy, a first-year Kin-Netic Energy camp participant, said he was enjoying learning during summer vacation.

"It's really fun and there's lots of cool people here," he said, and the instructors made it interesting. "They're really fun and they help a lot."

Morissette was back in the camp for her second straight year.

"It was really fun last year so I thought it'd be nice to try it again and do some more activities," she said. The best one so far, she said, was the octopus in a bottle.

"We got a water bottle, just a plain old recycled water bottle and we got an eye dropper and we got sort of like a wrapping paper and we had to cut it into triangles and then we had to make an air bubble with the eye dropper and then we put it in and if you would turn it upside own it would sort of bob up and down and look realistic," she explained.

Morissette also said learning at camp was different than in the classroom.

"[The instructors] always make the activities really fun and they always make sure you're going to have a fun time," she said. "It's different. The things that we do, it's more fun than school."

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