The problems of overpopulation in Singapore, erratic driving in Paris and pollution in Honduras were all being tackled in an upstairs room on Wesley College’s campus on Wednesday morning. A few doors down, a new generation of seismographs were being invented.
All of these projects were part of Camp Invention, a science, technology, engineering and math-based camp for rising first-through-sixth graders, which was held at Wesley College this week.
The camp included four separate modules that campers studied throughout each day. One module include was called Cache Dash, a class where children learned about exploring and solved world problems, such as how to stop Parisian drivers from running red lights. Amazing Atlas Games introduces campers to countries around the world and some of the traditional games played there. The Ecoverse module allows campers to explore the four elements and discover how scientists use tools to explore them. Students are also given the opportunity to take apart small household appliances and use the pieces to invent mechanisms that will launch rubber ducks into the air.
Bekah Ford, a teacher a Lake Forest South Elementary School in Harrington and an instructor at Camp Invention has noticed her campers learning, even if they feel like it’s all just for fun.
“It’s one of those things where it’s sneaky education,” Ford said. “They don’t realize how much they’re learning while they’re playing with stuff.”
Aside from educational enrichment the 37 campers are receiving, they are also learning to hone certain social skills. Lindsay Siok, who has been a counselor at Camp Invention for all of the camp’s three-year history at Wesley College, notices the campers developing a sense of teamwork.
“In the beginning of the week it’s more individual work,” Siok said. “As the week goes on, you can see more team work going on.”
Campers also learn about the importance of recycling. Everything the children build is made of recyclables that they brought from home, with the exception of basics such a string, tape and glue. The children learn that one man’s trash is another man’s seismograph.
On Tuesday afternoon, the first-, second-, and third-grade students were creating devices to detect vibrations in the earth. Everything from old soy milk cartons to shoe boxes and pipe cleaners were being employed by the students to build their seismographs.
The campers who participate in Camp Invention also receive additional, outside-the-classroom instruction in areas, such as science, technology, engineering and math, that most American students struggle in, Julieann Giannone, director of Camp Invention explained.
“Those are areas that they say there have been deficits in,” Giannone said. “If you look at reports of other countries we are starting to lag behind. In engineering we have to import students from other countries to fill up spots in colleges. We can’t afford to have a brain drain in these fields.”
Page 2 of 2 - The students at Camp Invention have picked up on the idea that what they’re studying is important.
“I’ve had fun at camp. We’ve gotten to invent a lot of things, “said Chase Talley. “I think it will help me in the classroom, just in case when I’m in college they need help fixing something.”