'You get to use your imagination': Camp gets kids excited about math, science

News-DemocratJune 19, 2014 

Six-year-old Aiden Parker added blue pipe cleaner legs to his propeller car to transform it into a spider. When he first put on the legs, they got in the way of the wheels so Aiden had to make a few adjustments to get it work.

"If it doesn't work they are the ones to figure out how to make it work," said Vicki Norton, principal at Smithton School.

Aiden is one of nearly 60 students in first through sixth grade participating in Camp Invention this week at the school. Camp Invention is a nationally acclaimed program that focuses on science, technology, math and engineering.

Aiden's car was created in the "Super Go" class where the campers have been building propeller or pulley cars all week and adding to their creations everyday.

After Aiden got the legs away from the wheels, his car worked well. "I'm doing donuts," he yelled as it drove around in circles.

Jacob Schmulbach, 7, created a rattlesnake pulley car. At the back of his car were two small paper cups filled with beads to make the sound of a rattlesnake. "I liked building it," he said, "because you could make it anything."

Smithton teacher Ashley Crompton, who is overseeing the car creation class, said the students have been "very creative" this week.

Eli Gregory, 6, built an octopus car. "It can stick to things with these suction cups," said Eli, who placed suction cups on the end of pipe cleaners stuck to his car.

This summer marked the first time Camp Invention was offered at Smithton School.

Superintendent Susan Homes said it's the first time Smithton Community Consolidated School District 130 offered an "academic enhancement activity over the summer. This is really to take academics to the next level for kids," she said. "We feel very fortunate that our board supported bringing this to Smithton."

Campers also had the opportunity to make their own pinball machines during the "Pinbug" class.

"This has been the most challenging class," said camp director Sasha Courtney, who is a fourth-grade teacher at Smithton School.

Fifth-grader John Wolf, 11, created the ball shooter by taping two pencils together, which was then used to launch the ball into his team's pinball machine made from cardboard boxes. John and his teammates Olivia Lynch, 10, and Austin Bruns, 10, call their invention -- "The Amazing World of Pinbug."

Olivia described Camp Invention as "fun. You get to use your imagination," she said. "You can create anything you want."

In the "Morphed" class, campers were tasked with combining two different inventions.

Fourth-grader Trenten Little, 9, built a golf teleporter for his father, Mark. Trenten said the golf teleporter -- constructed with cereal boxes and orange duct tape -- moves golfers from one hole to the next thus eliminating the need for golf carts.

"He asked me to make something for him," Trenten said of his dad.

The duo of Avery Hessbleenz and Dakota Fields, both 7, constructed a bionic taster in the "Amplified" class, where campers made an invention to enhance one of the five senses. Their invention, Avery said, would make spinach taste like candy.

Avery has enjoyed Camp Invention. "I like taking apart things and putting them back together and making new thing," she said.

Camp Invention will host a parent showcase Friday afternoon to give campers an opportunity to show off their creations.

Courtney hopes to double the amount of campers participating next summer.

"These kids are going to be able to take what they learned here into next school year," she said.

Contact reporter Jamie Forsythe at 239-2562 or jforsythe1@bnd.com. Follow her on Twitter @BND_JForsythe.

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