Campers envision, invent and try, try again

For kids at Camp Invention, one person’s recyclables are truly their treasure.

Throughout the week campers used approved take-apart items, such as old or broken VCRs, keyboards and computers to disassemble and create a machine to pop a balloon. Campers did a final test on their inventions for family and friends at the Inventors Showcase on June 22. Photo by Bethany Kemming

Throughout the week campers used approved take-apart items, such as old or broken VCRs, keyboards and computers to disassemble and create a machine to pop a balloon. Campers did a final test on their inventions for family and friends at the Inventors Showcase on June 22. Photo by Bethany Kemming

From June 18 to 21 at Anoka Middle School for the Arts Fred Moore campus, 38 campers disassembled, created, questioned, analyzed, tested and tried, tried again all to learn more about inventing and to create their own inventions in the process.

Through the four different portions of the camp, the two teams of campers got to experiment with a lot of invention methods using household materials, as well as some electronics.

Each day started with time at “base camp,” where campers got to work on small warm-up activities and plan for the day.

Through the I Can Invent: Balloon Burst portion of the camp, campers worked in teams to make a machine out of miscellaneous items that would pop a balloon.

Camp Director Stacy Cranston said campers brought in take-apart items, which were usually VCRs, keyboards or other broken electronics. All take-apart items were approved by Cranston and the two other instructors on the first day of camp.

Campers then disassembled them and used them as parts for popping the balloon.

Camp Invention instructor Susan Eberspacher led the groups on working on their inventions and provided them with new materials each day.

“You kind of just have to take risks on some stuff,” camper Kelsey Kallio said. “You don’t know what will work, you have to experiment.”

The art of inventing moved outdoors for the Action and Adventure Games part of the camp.

Camp Invention instructor Lynn Shereé Lesmeister led campers in outdoor games the Camp Invention curriculum provided, but then let them make their own revisions. After each round students would sit down and say what they liked or didn’t like about the version they just played. After offering up suggestions, they would make adaptations and play the new version.

“They start with a game and they make adaptations, that’s the invention part of it,” Lesmeister said.

Many students sometimes found the adaptations not to their liking and got frustrated if they lost.

“How are you going to handle that if you don’t get what you want? As a team player, is it a big deal?” Lesmeister asked campers.

Through Inventeureka, campers went on the Ci6000 Space Modulator Time Machine for imagined adventures, using problem solving and looking at new ways to change their inventions.

Campers also got to learn about the power of magnets through working on the island of Magnetropolis. They used magnets to suspend objects and design features for the island.

At the end of the week, campers displayed their creations and tested their balloon burst machines at the inventors showcase for family and friends. Campers also entered a drawing to receive an I Can Invent bag full of extra materials to invent with at home.

“We get to create and invent, it’s pretty awesome,” camper Nicholas Larsen said.

Cranston has worked with Camp Invention before and said she really enjoys running it.

“When I talk to the campers they’re so creative and it’s so unique, it’s truly one of a kind,” Cranston said.

Camp Invention started in 1990 in Ohio and is now a national program that provides curriculum to many instructors across the country. The camps are open to students entering first through sixth grade. This camp had 38 campers but could accommodate up to 110.

Cranston said Camp Invention provides all the materials that the curriculum requires so teachers should not have to provide anything extra. The cost for each camper was $225. The Pentair Foundation provided several scholarships for families in need, according to Cranston.

Bethany Kemming is at bethany.kemming@ecm-inc.com

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