by TaLeiza Calloway
They called it the Burst-N-8R.
As the name suggests, it was created to burst objects. For Jack Hackenmueller, Matthew Weno, Ethan Berndt, Billy Eull and John Liveringhouse, the project was to build something that would burst a water balloon. They succeeded.
The students were among 48 who attended Camp Invention held July 9-13 at the College of St. Benedict.
The first Camp Invention program ran in 1990 in Akron, Ohio schools as an outreach program of Invent Now in partnership with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. By 1996, the program grew to include 14 regions with 80 sites and 4,000 children.
Last year, the program hosted 76,000 children at more than 1,100 sites across the country.
This is the fourth year Missy Tellinghuisen has served as camp director for the St. Joseph site. Every year students amaze her. The age of students ranges from those what are going into the first grade through sixth grade. The curriculum is designed for primary students and intermediate students.
“The ultimate goal is to get them to think outside the box,” Tellinghuisen said, “for them to create and expand their different learning styles and to get them to understand that all inventions started first with an idea.”
Camp participants are busy from the time they arrive to when they leave. Days that start at 8:45 a.m. kick off at base camp, an area where students gather to create something before their first of three modules or classes begins.
Students are divided into groups based on age and then they rotate schedules. For example, while younger students eat lunch, the older group might work on a particular lesson.
Campers also participate in action-adventure games. These are games that tie directly into their curriculum, Tellinghuisen said. An example of a game played is when students learned how to break down shaving cream. They used fish squirters to make the shaving cream disappear.
They work on small projects that lead up to a large one. Students bring in take-apart items from home to use for their larger projects. And at the end of the week, parents are invited to a showcase to see the products of the weeklong camp experience.
On a Thursday afternoon, students were gearing up to make an alien out of pipe cleaners at base camp. In one of the classes, the assignment was to make a “Magnetropolis,” an island or little city powered by magnets.
Tellinghuisen was surprised at a proposed feature one of the groups added to their town. They asked her for a water balloon. A little suspicious of the request, she asked, “Why?”
They wanted to add a blimp to fly over their stadium.
“It’s amazing to see how creative they are,” she said. “They think of things that as adults you don’t let your mind go that way. But kids let themselves think very openly.”
This was Ethan Berndt’s second year at Camp Invention. The 11-year-old Sartell resident says he enjoys inventing new things and has learned a lot.
“I learned it takes a lot of time and hard work to create something,” Berndt said. “I think it (camp) is really fun. I like the Rube Goldberg machine.”
For Olivia Schleper of St. Joseph, the camp experience has been a positive one. This was also her second year attending. What does she like the most?
“Just being able to invent stuff,” Schleper said.
Schleper helped make living quarters for her group’s Magnetropolis, her favorite invention.
It was hard for Sawyer Engholm to choose one thing he liked about Camp Invention. The 10-year-old St. Joseph resident has been participating in the weeklong camp for three years and for him, it’s a fun place to be and provides an easy way to make friends.
“It’s just a cool camp experience,” Engholm said. “I can’t even describe it. I would recommend Camp Invention for any kid.”
Students and staff share Engholm’s excitement. Energy is high at Camp Invention.
All students have to do to attend is submit a registration form and the required payment. Scholarships are also available for students. For more information about Camp Invention, visit: www.invent.org.