Camp Invention immerses students in creativity

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By Ron Benningfield

The Kentucky Association of School Administrators named Paul Mullins, principal of LaRue County High School, as the organization’s vice president Friday at the Galt House in Louisville.
Mullins, last year’s KASA Administrator of the Year, was one of several local district administrators and teachers who presented programs during the conference.
He, superintendent of schools Sam Sanders, chief technology officer Freddie Newby, instructional supervisor Amanda Reed and LCHS teachers Jorge Venegas and Natalie Gentry offered information about the school’s Laptops of LaRue initiative.
“We provided information to those considering starting a laptop initiative that included bringing in and informing the stakeholders and first steps to implementation,” said Mullins.    
Instructional supervisor Denise Skaggs, Reed, and special education director Camille Turner presented a program on closing achievement gaps among students.
Camp Invention
Some 56 students investigated survival traits of the planet’s wildest animals, built life-sized clubhouses and investigated polymer science as Camp Invention was underway at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School last week.
Created for children entering grades one through six, Camp Invention was a weeklong adventure in creativity that immersed its participants in hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as history and the arts.
“We are focused on subjects that will help the United States address a critical shortage of scientists and engineers in the global workforce of the 21st century,” said Michael J. Oister, chief operating officer for Invent Now, Inc.  “Our programs nurture creative thinking in children, providing them with open-ended opportunities to explore ideas, make mistakes, and reinvent solutions.”
Kathy Ross, director of the camp in its fourth year of operation, said the pace was non-stop Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m.
Program participants were divided into age-appropriate groups that were each assigned a counselor to oversee and help engage them in the week’s activities.  
Each day, children rotated through five integrated modules that employed creative thinking to solve real-world challenges. Children learned vital 21st century life skills such as problem solving and teamwork through imaginative play.
In this summer’s program, children constructed clubhouses made of PVC piping in which they cracked puzzling codes and solved a mystery in The Curious Cypher Club module; investigated polymer science and created their own bouncy balls to take home in the Bounce, an atomic journey module; and explored innovative survival traits of the planet’s wildest animals in the Wild: Wondrous and Living Designs module.  
Camp Invention also included a component in which children participated in high-energy games that challenged their minds and bodies. Participants also upcycled pieces and parts of discarded household appliances and other donated materials to create new machines.
Helping Ross were instructors Tina Southwood (fourth year), Martha Page (fourth year) and Jenny Perkins (second year); counselors Jeshua Logsdon, Landon Wolford and Haley Best; and camp parent Mary Cecil. Dow Corning Corporation provided the local camp with 21 scholarships.
Since its inception in 1990, nonprofit Invent Now programming has grown to include nearly 1,500 school partnerships in 49 states. In 2010, more than 70,000 children participated nationwide.
The Camp Invention program was created in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which continues to support Invent Now’s mission to inspire creativity and inventive thinking in children of all ages.