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Making the future at Camp Invention

August 03, 2011 - Young scientists put their ideas to the test at Clarkston's Camp Invention.

In its sixth year, the week-long program presented 106 students going into grades 1-6 with hands-on modules in science, technology, engineering, and math, as well as history and the arts.

In the WILD: Wondrous and Living Designs module, students explored animal survival traits such as cuttlefish camouflage, fire beetles' infrared vision, and iron-plated snails' tough shell.

"Kids made paper shells to protect water balloons," said teacher Beth Rogers. "They were strong enough to sit on way cool. They did a nice job."

Students cracked codes to solve a mystery in the Curious Cypher Club module.

"We sent messages all week long they had to decode messages and find suspects," said teacher Missy Ludd.

They made club houses made of plastic tubing and other recyclable items to work in, figuring out letter-number grid, Caesar Cypher, Morse dot-dash, and other codes.

In the I Can Invent: Edison's Workshop module, children used pieces and parts of discarded household appliances and other donated materials to create new machines.

"They bring items from home, electronics, motors, fans, computers, printers, anything that doesn't work anymore," said teacher Dennis Klenow. "We take them apart and create mazes out of them."

Older students work in teams to make Rube Goldberg machines, named after the cartoonist who drew wildly complex devices to do simple tasks.

"Year after year, this is typically a favorite it's 100 percent hands on," Klenow said. "They get to take apart their parents' old junk."

"They're doing great. Their ideas are fabulous," said teacher Kristen Gretka. "Some of them use magnets, batteries connected to circuits good stuff."

The Camp Invention SPARK program also included Bounce! An Atomic Journey module, in which students explored polymer science and made their own bouncy balls to take home. In the Game On: Power Play module, they played games emphasizing teamwork, creativity, and problem-solving.

Camp Director Kara Lomazov and instructors are all certified teachers, most from Clarkston Community Schools, and staff members were mostly current or former Clarkston students.

Clarkston Community Education hosted the camp, July 25-29, with sponsors U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Ford Motor Company Fund, Dow Corning Foundation, and Michigan Intellectual Property Law Association.

Visit or call 800-968-4332.

Phil is editor for The Clarkston News. He is a veteran of the first Iraq war, having served in the U.S. Army.
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