Camp sparks creative fun: First- through sixth-graders play inventors at summer science program

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 20, 2007

ALABASTER &8212; Milk jugs became space suit jet packs and putty helped build high-tech transport vehicles last week at Thompson Intermediate School&8217;s Camp Invention.

&8220;It&8217;s a great educational and enrichment program,&8221; said Regional Coordinator Hillary Dunham of the annual summer science camp created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation.

&8220;The kids face all kinds of scenarios,&8221; Dunham said.

This year, the third time for the school to hold the camp, students participated in its Explore module.

Activities included finding a way to transport secret documents around the world and learning how to collect and study evidence such as fingerprints, teeth impressions and ink marks, to solve a crime.

Julie Gay, Thompson teacher and camp director, said most of the week &8220;let students see how inventors have to do trial and error to make things work. Kids have learned that what they think might happen &8212; it might not work out that way.&8221;

As with every year, participants had a chance to create their own inventions out of old or broken household appliances. Several students said they were making alarms to keep pesky younger siblings out of their rooms. Another sat turning his tools on a pickle shooter in progress.

Another favorite activity brought outer space to life. Students made contact with aliens, building command centers, radio towers and space suits out of everyday items like paper towel rolls, cereal boxes, milk jugs and garbage bags.

&8220;It&8217;s so much fun for the kids,&8221; Gay said. &8220;We just feel it&8217;s a positive educational experience that&8217;s not structured like a school environment. They don&8217;t realize they&8217;re learning.&8221;