Tales of a science camp: 1. Forscherfreizeit Ratzeburg

Conny, Siska, Martin and myself just — we came back home only yesterday! — ran a summer camp for teenagers called “Forscherfreizeit Ratzeburg”. The idea was to combine a fun summer holiday experience at a beautiful lake with all kinds of opportunities for doing experiments as well going sailing, swimming, hiking, you name it. And we had a great week!

Today I’m gonna show you lots of pictures for a general overview, and then I’m gonna post on experiments and our experiences with the Forscherfreizeit over the next couple of days.

So, obviously, we began with some team building. What you see in the picture below is a tower tumbling over after the participants had build it using a wire sling which they had to coordinate using long ropes. Luckily we had a great group and they all got on really really well.


Which meant they maybe even had a little too much fun occasionally. Hence the most relaxing part of our day was just before breakfast, when all the kids were fast asleep and we could go for a swim in the quiet lake. How beautiful is this?

And if you have ever wondered how difficult it is to swim and take pictures at the same time with the horizon being close to horizontal, I can tell you: very difficult indeed.IMG_2152A little later and the lake wouldn’t be as quiet any more…

IMG_2208We were lucky that Søren lent us a raft-building kit. After some initial planning and intense discussions…

IMG_2232…the kids started collecting all the parts.

IMG_2246And then the parts needed to be put together, more or less following the plan they had designed.


After a well-deserved break…


…it was time to take the raft out on the lake and sail into the sunset.


Then on the next day, it was time for some experiments! As I said, I’ll talk about all the “interesting” (as in “new to this blog”) experiments later, so for now I’ll just mention that, obviously, we had to do the melting ice cube experiment.

IMG_2460 IMG_2468And a real highlight were, of course, the model boats. Especially playing with a remotely controlled submarine which is explicitly designed for use in bathtubs and NOT in lakes… ;-)


And putting wood instead of a candle in a steam boat is also a lot more fun :-)IMG_2490The participants’ fascination with the toy boats resulted in an impromptu project: build your own toy boat and develop a good propulsion system!

The ideas were really interesting. From balloons over pressurized air over mouse traps… Below you see a test run of one of the boats.


For the instructors’ boat we had the brilliant idea to use the coke & mentos thing that you always hear about. So in order to keep the marina clean (imagine all the sugary stickiness on the nice sailing boats!) we took a raft out on the lake to test our boat. Unfortunately we were slightly underwhelmed by the result…

Oh, and then of course there was a lot of sailing.IMG_2589 IMG_2599 IMG_2602 IMG_2660

IMG_2775And a lot of watching the sun set.


IMG_2763And swimming.IMG_2842 IMG_2817

And other kinds of games with water and the sun.IMG_2742And luckily only on the very last day the weather got bad. At first, the wind died down.IMG_2868

Which gave us the opportunity for an improvised table tennis game.IMG_2905

But then later this happened:IMG_2919

Very pretty, but not exactly what we had hoped for.IMG_2922

Anyway, we’ll be back soon!IMG_2925

Thanks Conny, Siska, Martin and everybody else for a great week!IMG_2931










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