Protocampers make rockets and hovercars

Ollie Lueck, 9, measures the track that her hover car will race on at PROTOCAMP Tuesday morning.

When a Mentos candy is dropped into a two-liter bottle of diet Coke, it causes a reaction called nucleation, which in turn causes the soda to spew like a geyser. Plus, it just looks really cool.

That’s only one of the many fun science experiments seventh-grade students attending the Western Colorado Community College’s annual PROTOCAMP are trying this week.

“We’re using science, technology, engineering, math skills — and applying them to real world technology,” said PROTOCAMP instructor Scott Davis.

Other PROTOCAMP projects include flying a solar balloon, building a light circuitry board, and designing a hover car.

The hover car project is one of the campers’ favorites. The students design and build their own car, which “floats” along a magnetic track. Once the cars are completed, the students hold a final race, and then have the opportunity to reverse-engineer their cars to make them go faster.

Davis said the kids are doing most of their own work, only being provided with the kits and basic instruction. “We’ve just given them the raw materials and they have to finish their own projects,” Davis said.

This is the second year the camp has taken place. Demand for the camp greatly increased this summer, and the camp was filled to the maximum capacity of 36 students. All of the children have study backgrounds in math and science, and the camp allows them to try some new skills, like soldering and design, with the aptitude they already have.

More information about PROTOCAMP and other summer camps offered by the college are available at



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