Washington Evening Journal

Fairfield Ledger   Mt. Pleasant News
Neighbors Growing Together | Aug 18, 2018

Creating inventors one project at a time

Kids let their imagination run wild during camp at Lincoln Upper Elementary
Jun 07, 2018
Photo by: Gretchen Teske Campers Erik Almelien and Alex Chapman play with slime during the stick-to-it session at Camp Invention. The weeklong camp is held at Lincoln Upper Elementary School.

By Gretchen Teske, The JOURNAL


Camp Invention participants have no option but to be as creative as possible this summer. The weeklong camp, held at Lincoln Upper Elementary, is designed to keep them busy, thinking and using their creativity to create whatever their imaginations can come up with.

Camp director Janet Conrad says letting kids imaginations run wild is what the camp is all about. “We don’t say no,” she said. “If they can try it and it’s safe, they can try it.” Around 80 kids come from all over southeast Iowa to participate in the camp which is now in its eighth year.

The camp was originally started by two science teachers, who have since retired. They heard about it from other friends and decided to give it a try. “We’ve continued ever since,” Conrad says. There are now six staff members who participate and four of them have been with the camp since its start. Other volunteers include 21 high-school students who are earning silver cord hours by being counselors.

On the first day of camp, students are asked to bring in recyclable materials that they can use for building. One of the school’s classrooms was turned into the supplies room where stacks of materials lie, waiting for kids to get creative and create something with.

One session the kids attend is called stick-to-it: a session specifically designed to let creativity flow. Campers are encouraged to come up with a design and concept, then create their own product from there. Creative inventions ranged anywhere from a jet-pack made from liter bottles to a spy-eyewear set made from cardboard and plastic.

When not creating their own inventions, campers are put into any of three other sessions throughout the day to create and learn about design.

One session involves creating their own mini-mansion. Students take small cardboard boxes and stack them to figure out how to create a house. Throughout the week they will expirament with adding lights, smart furniture, appliances and even how to measure for wallpaper and floor covering.

Another session is the robo pet vet, which Conrad says is a crowd favorite. Campers are given a robotic dog which they take apart to look at anatomy, then reassembled to apply fur and make the dog their own. At the end of the week, the campers will design their own dog park, specific to their dog.

The optibots room also brought in lots of smiles as campers designed and decorated self-driving cars. The cars are designed to drive on a track the students create and are to teach them about the future of technology.

Conrad says the camp is important for their self-esteem and for nurturing young minds and creativity. “It teaches them at a young age that things they are thinking about or imagining can be made real or true,” she said. “No idea is too big.”

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