Washington Evening Journal
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Neighbors Growing Together | Nov 21, 2014

Camp Invention draws students back to school

By Xiomara Levsen | Jun 17, 2014
Photo by: Aaron Viner Students work on building their own pinball machine out of cardboard during Camp Invention on Tuesday morning, at Lincoln Elementary School.

Children going into first through sixth grade are learning about science and engineering at Camp Invention in Washington this week.
This is the fourth year Camp Invention has been held at Lincoln Elementary School, said Janet Conrad and Julie Timmins, directors of Camp Invention.
“It’s neat for us to see the kids learning so much this week, but they don’t even really know all the benefits they’re getting from the learning part of it,” Conrad said. “I mean they are having fun.”
Conrad has one of her children participating in the camp this week. She said her child wouldn’t stop talking about what they did that day.
“That’s the fun part,” Timmins said. “To see how much fun the kids are having and the activities—the learning without knowing they’re learning.”
“And each year it’s a different theme, so the kids will never do the same activities twice when they’re here,” Conrad said.
This year’s theme at Camp Invention is morphed, Timmins said.
The morning begins at 9 a.m. with a general assembly letting students know what they’ll be doing that day. At 9:30 a.m. the students are broken up into their groups and head out to their classrooms. The classes go until 11:30 a.m. when the break for lunch is held. Afterward, at 12:30 p.m. students go back to working in different classrooms until 2:45 p.m.
Each student is put in a group based on the grade they’re going into. There are five different sections the students participate in during the day.
“We have one group called amplify and they are looking at the five senses,” Timmins said. “They’re trying to build bionic parts for those five senses. Yesterday they looked at the eye and they tried to design things that make them see better. Today they’re going to do ears. They’re going to do things that make super hearing. Just all things that deal with the five senses and body parts that can be used.”
The design studio has different challenges for students to invent something, Conrad said. Tuesday’s challenge for the students was to take two inventions, such as a camera and a cell phone, and combine them into one invention.
“Super go” is in the third room where students are creating their own vehicles.
“They’ll get to bring home their own car by the end of the week that hopefully moves,” Conrad said.
In the pin bug room, the students are building pinball machines from items students brought to school to be taken apart, Timmins said.
“Half of the kids have never seen a pinball machine,” she said.
The excitement for the camp builds throughout the school year for both the children and the teachers.
“We have kids asking midyear when camp’s going to be and what we’re going to be doing at it this year and parents asking [about it],” Conrad said. “It’s fun. I think us teachers have as much fun as the kids do during the week.”
“Yes,” Timmins said, “and I get to see a different age group.”
At the end of the week an invention showcase will be held.
“The invention showcase begins at 1:30 p.m. on Friday,” Conrad said. “Parents will get to come and see what their students did during the week.”
Camp Invention is organized through Event Now, which is a national non-profit science camp and is part of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Timmins said.
“There’s about 20 in Iowa [held],” she said. “This is the only one this far southeast.”

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