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Camp Invention teaches STEM in 'fun, exciting' ways

Cary Ashby • Jun 16, 2018 at 4:00 PM

BERLIN HEIGHTS — This was the fourth year that Landon Bennett has attended Camp Invention.

Since the son of Paul and Jessi said he’s “really good at science and math,” it makes sense he also said the week-long camp isn’t just “something to do in the summer,” it’s a place where he can do “fun and exciting stuff.”

Bennett was one of about 80 students who attended the Camp Invention held recently at Edison Middle School. Considered “the nation’s premier summer enrichment day-camp program,” Camp Invention features hands-on activities for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) for children who will be in kindergarten through sixth grade. 

“The teachers are really nice,” said Bennett, who will be in the sixth grade at Main Street School in Norwalk.

Willard City Schools also hosted its version recently.

“Our Camp Invention was sponsored by MTD, so students were able to attend at a reduced cost,” said preschool teacher Renee White, who directed the Willard variation.

Andrea Levine, an intervention specialist at Edison Middle and High schools, directed the Edison camp.

“This is my fifth year working (and) third year directing,” said Levine, who hoped campers gained a love for STEM by the end of the week.

Students from about 15 area home, private and public schools attended Camp Invention at Edison Middle. Those schools from the Reflector readership area included: Edison, Norwalk city, Norwalk Catholic, Plymouth Elementary and Western Reserve.

“We have a ton of kids from different places,” Levine said. “We welcome anyone here who is within driving distance.” 

For the Willard camp, students came from Willard, Plymouth, Shelby and other nearby areas.

Eight counselors, known as leadership interns, assisted the teachers in the four daily Edison classes called modules. Julia Church attends Western Reserve High School while the rest of the leadership interns — James Anderson, Coral Craig, Will Grant, Halina Krul, Leah Krul, Shea Smith and Elisa Villa— are from Edison. 

Leah Krul was a camper for one year and is now using her time as a leadership intern toward her volunteer hours at the Bowling Green State University honors college. As a camper, the recent Edison graduate said she learned the importance of group work and “hearing ideas from other kids.”

“It’s a lot of fun,” Krul added about being a counselor. “I feel really good doing it.”

Camp Invention is an opportunity for students to exercise their creativity and their imagination. In one module, students were challenged to connect small boxes in a Tetris-style fashion with paper clips. Their decorated cluster had to have a small light source.

The National Inventors Hall of Fame started Camp Invention in 1990. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office now supports the week-long experience.

“They provide us with all our resources and curriculum,” Levine said.

Milan resident Ella Rogers had to create an object that would grab coins from a shoe box that was several feet away from her. She connected eight toilet-paper rolls to the cut top of a milk jug and the rolls were taped to a complete jug.

“I thought of something that would scoop it up and hold at the same time,” Scott and Nancy’s daughter said.

The girl was asked how successful her invention was.

“I think it probably was 60 percent,” said Rogers, who will enter third grade next year at Edison Elementary School.

Grant, who will be an EHS sophomore, has been participating in Camp Invention for 11 years. Aside from being a teacher, he’s done it all — camper, counselor-in-training and now a leadership intern.

In fact, his mother, Jennifer, brought the Camp Invention concept to Edison.

“We started doing it at Western at first,” said the younger Grant, who as a camper was thrilled about making “something completely new” out of every-day objects.

“For a kid, that’s mind-blowing,” he added. 

“I’m really excited to come back to camp again. It’s fun; I get to see kids I don’t normally see. … It’s good to see how (the camp has) progressed over the years.” 

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