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Camp Invention puts creativity, teamwork to the test

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Students develop problem solving, teamwork skills

By Ron Benningfield

Classrooms at Abraham Lincoln Elementary School buzzed with activity last week as students in grades one through six developed problem solving and teamwork skills while having hands-on fun. 

The 61 students put their creativity – individual and collective – to work on activities that complemented the academic principles they were learning. 

Each Camp Invention program contains five modules that have been carefully tested and piloted for several years before they are nationally launched. The curricula for all modules are aligned with national and state education standards.

Teacher Martha Page’s students created a virtual world complete with inhabitants (Inventars) and structures.

“In this world, Hatched, we had a problem of getting water from Lake Hatch and across mountains to where the inhabitants lived,” said Page. Through group brainstorming, the first and second graders built and tested aqueducts to carry the water. 

Materials came from a “recycling” classroom into which students had placed all types of cardboard and other miscellaneous items. They had brought in plastic pipes, jugs and non-working electrical appliances.

“If each group’s aqueduct, when tested, was successful, they received $500 dollars in Hatch money to use in constructing their buildings,” Page said.

Down the hall in Pattern Kingdom, Tina Southwood’s group was busily engaged in learning how different shapes interact.

“The challenge was for the students to use four colors to color a map of the United States so that no adjacent state would be the same color,” Southwood said.

The students also created mazes, then tested their ability to solve each maze by placing a sheet of wax paper over the maze, adding a drop of water and, by slanting and turning the maze, moving the water from start to finish through the puzzle.

Students in a third room created powered robots, windmills, and other fixtures.

Kathy Ross, camp director, said the pace at Camp Invention was non-stop Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. Students worked in the different science, art, and math modules during the weekday mornings, then spent the afternoons at the “I Can Invent” module where they took apart whatever electronic items (with cords removed) that had been brought in to solve the week’s challenge.

Older children spent the week creating a Rube Goldberg-type machine that solved a given challenge through a chain reaction. Ross said for this group to be successful, their machine had to have at least four steps in which one action causes another.

During Friday’s showcase, students displayed their work for parents and grandparents to observe, and Ross ran a slide show with pictures of the participants in action.

Helping Ross was assistant director Alicia Akridge; instructors Southwood, Page, and Jenny Perkins; counselors Emily Boone, Landon Wolford, and Haley Best; and volunteers Kristy Rowe, Ripley Lucas and Hannah Best.

“It’s been a success,” said Ross. “We’ve had a good return rate all week, and parents have said the kids who attended have been talking about the camp all the way home.”