For those of you who may have thought those brick-and-mortar structures called schools are pretty quiet during the summer, guess again.
That myth would have been quickly dispelled by wandering down the north wing of Cottonwood Elementary School during the week of June 11-15. What looked and sounded like chaos to the casual visitor was actually 75 students at Camp Invention.
Created jointly by Invent Now Inc. and the United States Patent and Trademark Office, this isn’t your typical summer camp.
“It’s to help kiddos with 21st century learning skills,” said Bethany Fox, a teacher at Cottonwood who runs the camp. “It’s targeting kiddos who are thinkers, who want to invent things, come up with new ideas. Just want to get their hands on something fun this summer.”
Camp Invention has been called learning disguised as fun. The experience encourages elementary school students to be creative, tinker with ideas, and explore the unknown.
Each day, children rotate through four integrated modules that employ creative thinking to solve real-world challenges. Children learn vital life skills, such as problem-solving and teamwork, through imaginative play.
“Concepts build upon each other and include planning, drawing, creating, testing, modifying, naming and even marketing to a target audience,” Fox said.
In I Can Invent: Balloon Burst™, students use four different elements to create a balloon-bursting machine.
At Magnetropolis™, children will visit a faux island to study magnetism and the different ways in which it works.
Inventeureka™ teaches the history of inventing. Children will also create a new invention and take a fantasy adventure on the Space Modulator Time Machine.
Action and Adventure Games™ is like the physical education module that get the students moving throughout the day. They created a tower made up of four items from the recycle room.
First started in 1990 with 300 kids, it is now 76,000 children strong. They are encouraged to discover their own innate creativity and inventiveness through hands-on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) content.
The program now includes more than 1,200 school partnerships in 49 states. Last was the first camp in Andover and it drew 41 students. Four seniors from Andover High School and an eighth-grader from Andover Middle School, along with four teachers from Cottonwood, comprise the camp staff.
“We didn't have regional sponsors this year, and it would be great to get the word out to local businesses that they can donate and sponsor children to attend camp next year, Fox said. “It's tax deductible and on the newsletter that is sent home daily they (the sponsor) is listed and thanked.
“It’s a great alternative to all the sports camps we have. It’s targeting a different group of kiddos.”