Seventy-three children from the McPherson County area and beyond have had fun stretching their creativity and learning vital problem-solving skills this week during Camp Invention.

 The nationally recognized summer enrichment program for students aged kindergarten through 12 celebrated its 28th year of success in McPherson. 

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Central Christian College’s Mingenback Hall, on the corner of Ave. D and 1100 S. Maple St., the campers and their certified teachers have tackled modules in a curriculum designed by National Invention Hall of Fame inductees. 

The hands-on activities promoted science, engineering — and teamwork.

“These kids are learning ...(about) becoming a good listener, problem solving and knowing how things work when you’re working in groups. It’s exciting to see their gears turning and listening to six and 7-year-olds talk about their inventions is just amazing,”  said Tammy Gipson director of Camp Invention.

Gipson had a message for her students every day before camp: “My three missions everyday are: To be safe, have fun and learn something new,” she said. 

Modules in this year’s “Fast-Forward” curriculum included:

 n Optibot: Children designed tracks for a self-driving robot and found out how sensors are used in self-driving vehicles.

 n Robotic Pet Vet: Campers were given a robotic dog, took it apart to “nurse” it back to health, and designed and built a “park” for it. They got to customize their own robotic pet to take home.

n Mod My Mini Mansion: Campers designed the futuristic home of their dreams. 

n Stick To It: The children were able to design something new every day as they explored different careers. They made their own dancing dinosaur and worked with magnetic slime.

Gipson said the children were each given an inventor’s log to help them complete their challenges.

“They could jot down ideas, draw pictures and more —it helped them put their ideas into pictures,” she said. She said the campers made wonderful veterinarians for their robotic pets.

“They learned a lot when they created the robotic pet dog... that was really neat to watch,” she said. 

 Tuition was $225 this year, but Gipson said she was able to offer campers scholarships thanks to the continuing support from McPherson’s community.

“We had a lot of help from McPherson Community Foundation, the CHS Refinery, the McPherson Optimist Club, Johns Manville and Central Christian College. Around 50 percent of these kids have some sort of scholarship thanks to these sponsors,” she said.

Gipson said she is also thankful that Central Christian College has allowed them to have the program on its campus.

“It’s been at Central for around four years now. They don’t charge us much to have this camp there. It’s really nice to be able use their big space. It’s great for these kids to attend this camp,” she said. 

Contact Brooke Haas by email at bhaas@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @ MacSentinel.