In one classroom, Ian Jenkins, 11, of McPherson takes apart a VCR and uses the parts to build a rubber duck launcher.
Next door, a group of third grade students build machines to solve trash problems in Honduras and overcrowding in Singapore.
In another room, first and second graders learn about earthquakes and volcanoes, and in the gym, fourth and fifth graders try to get through a crystal cave in Mexico without breaking any of the crystals.
“We made little laser beams [with string],” said Kaden Aroum, 10, of McPherson. “You had to crawl through them without touching them.”
These are just some of the activities 73 children ages 6 to 12 participated in during Camp Invention, a week-long science camp held at St. Joseph’s Catholic School this week. Each day, the children participated in activities designed to build problem-solving and teamwork skills and teach them about challenges affecting the world today.
Camp Invention is a national program that started in Akron, Ohio, in 1990. The program has since grown to include 77,000 children in about 1,200 sites across the country.
Camp Invention has four different programs, each with its own activities. This year, the camp at St. Joseph’s used the Geo-Quest program, which focuses on earth science and solving real-world problems.
The Geo-Quest program includes four modules, which the children participated in each day. During these modules, students explored regions of earth from the sky to the subterranean, invented solutions to problems around the globe, and played games while learning about extreme climates.
Students also built rubber duck launchers out of parts salvaged from old appliances. Many students said dismantling machines was their favorite part of the camp.
“I like seeing what’s inside,” said Sydney Myers, 11, of McPherson.
Aiden Moore, 10, of McPherson said he liked learning about the stars during the Ecoverse module. In this activity, students built devices that let them see how the stars move across the night sky.
Jordan Creed, 9, of Moundridge said he enjoyed working with his fellow participants in the Amazing Atlas games, during which students worked together to build devices to solve problems such as keeping tools cool in the Sahara or retrieving a survival bag while climbing a mountain.
Tammy Gibson, a teacher at St. Joseph’s School and camp director, said she’s been impressed with the simplicity of some solutions.
“Two boys used something as simple as string and two washers,” Gibson said. “That gave them the momentum they needed to retrieve the bag [during one activity].”
Gibson said many of the materials used during the camp come from donations, and at the end of camp, participants can take extra materials home to keep building and inventing.
Page 2 of 2 - For Gibson, one of the most interesting activities was this year’s base camp, held at the beginning and end of each day. The base camp activity focused on sea turtle conservation, something Gibson used to do in real life.
Gibson said she thought it was cool that the lessons she taught were about something she knew and cared so much about.
Gibson said she used to travel a lot and has built a collection of items from around the world. She said having those items and experience helps her add to the camp experience.
“Even if [the students] can’t travel, they’ll get to see things from those countries,” Gibson said.
The camp was funded in part by $7,250 in donations from National Cooperative Refinery Association, Hospira, and the McPherson County Community Foundation. This money was used to cover the costs for 45 of the camp’s 73 participants.
Contact Josh Arnett at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ArnettSentinel.