Amy Cunningham
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Students in the United States have consistently scored lower than their international

As part of the games portion of Camp Invention, held June 6-10 at Spring Hill Elementary School, students were challenged to move a balloon to a certain point in the gym without using their hands. One of the camp’s attendees uses his head to propel the balloon forward. Staff photo by Amy Cunningham

peers in science and math, but programs like Camp Invention, held last week at Spring Hill Elementary School, may help children in that district excel in those subjects.
According to Darcy Sly, Spring Hill Elementary School instructional coach, this is the fifth year the district has partnered with Invent Now Kids to host a session of the nationally-acclaimed program. Participants who range from grades one through six spend five days engaging in activities to reinforce what they’ve learned in their classrooms during the school year. The camp’s goal is to build skills in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The best part, according to Sly, is that Camp Invention disguises learning as play.
“They don’t even realize they’re learning, they’re having so much fun,” Sly said.
She explained that this year’s session covers a range of topics from atoms to wildlife, all presented in a more hands-on, less formal atmosphere than those subjects would be presented in a typical science classroom. Children are challenged to solve problems using creative thinking.
“During the school year it’s so structured. (Here) they are using their creativity and their imagination,” she said.
This year’s camp had 110 attendees. With something for everyone, children rotated between five modules – Wild: Wondrous Innovations and Living Designs; The Curious Cypher Club; Bounce! An Atomic Journey; Game On: Power Play; and I Can Invent: Edison’s Workshop.
Fourth-grader Marshall Swanson said that he thinks attending the camp may help him in his future endeavor to have a career in the military. He especially enjoyed the Curious Cypher Club module where students learned to crack secret codes.
“I liked trying it out. Solving codes was really, really fun,” Swanson recalled. “Someday I might want to do that for my job in the military.”
“Or you could be a spy,” his friend fourth-grader William Goldman piped in.
Goldman said science has long been one of his favorite subjects, which made the camp that much more fun and meaningful to him.
“I’ve been talking about using science to solve problems for most of my life,” he explained. Goldman said he would like to be a scientist when he gets older.
The district plans to continue offering Camp Invention for the foreseeable future. Sly said she believes the camp is an excellent way to introduce these topics to young learners.
“We’re fostering a love for science, and we’re teaching them that science isn’t a scary subject,” Sly explained. “We have parents that say they sign their kids up because the kids aren’t interested in science (during the school year). By the end of the week here, the kids are loving it.”