Camp Invention Enhances Opportunity for STEM Education in Summer

| August 15, 2013 | 0 Comments | Education

Caleb and Isabell Gould show off their inventions at the parent showcase. (Stacy Shaw)

Camp Invention® at Bristow Run Elementary School doubled its enrollment this year to 111 children, while continuing to challenge campers from all over western Prince William County in the applied sciences.

At the parent showcase Friday in the school’s auditorium, Bristow Camp Invention Director Andrea Ragonese explained how the children, “got their hands dirty” taking apart walky-talkies and computers to make new inventions.

“Your kids were doing the work,” she told parents.

Bristow Run teachers and interning teen counselors worked with them and guided them through the process.

The national-wide week-long day camp for elementary age children is known for a rigorous STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) curriculum that incorporates a global, futuristic approach to the sciences.

This year, the Camp Invention’s “Geo-Quest” curriculum took an even more global theme. Some campers took on nature’s elements by designing vehicles to withstand sandstorms, while others engineered a city that would help residents escape from a tsunami.

Ragonese said while this year’s camp came with new challenges, it also offered new rewards.

“We had five modules verses three, so it was a different experience with more kids,” she said.

Camp Invention campers and counselors attend the parent showcase. (Stacy Shaw)

Bristow Run teacher Charleen Manning led groups of children of different ages in a geo-caching “Cache-Dash,” finding clues in different locations around the globe, an activity that many students were already familiar with from Boy or Girl Scouts.

She also helped campers address issues of overpopulation in Singapore by creating underground cities and synthetic islands, and fashioning robots that would eliminate “rubbish” from the waters around Honduras.

Unlike traditional learning methods which focus mainly on knowledge acquisition, Camp Invention immerses students in higher-level thinking skills through problem solving.

“It was awesome. There was lot’s of creativity,” Manning said.

Rising second grade students participated in the “Amazing Atlas” adventures, which allowed them to virtually explore crystal caves in Mexico or climb the Himalayas.

“It was amazing, how much information your children were able to get from it,” Bristow Run teacher Robin Heltbridle said.

Allison Hill said the camp was perfect for her son Roger, a rising second grade student at T. Clay Wood Elementary School in Nokesville.

“He loves math and science; that’s where his interests are,” said Hill, who decided to sign him up after seeing a flyer for the camp in his backpack.

Children liked the hands-on activities best, like creating a catapult for a rubber ducky.

Xavier Kubancik launches his rubber ducky. (Valerie Kubancik)

“We learned about velocity, force and launching the duck as far as we could,” said one fourth grade boy presenting at the showcase.

Rising fifth grade student at Glenkirk Elementary School, Xavier Kubancik, said he joined the camp because he knows he wants to be a robotics engineer.

“I wanted to see what I could make and how stuff works,” Kubancik said.

His parents were excited to find a camp well-suited for their inquisitive son.

“Not every kid is going to be number-one in sports, so it’s great as a parent to have something locally that is really going to help them for their further,” said Valerie Kubancik, who said Xavier woke up early every morning, excited about camp.

Despite having a bigger camp population, teachers saw an increased ability to work in small groups.

“They are so smart as the whole team works together,” Manning said.

Staff at Camp Invention expects the camp to continue to grow in popularity and hopes to welcome even more students next year.

© 2013, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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