Friday, July 25, 2014

Inspiring Week at Camp Invention!

Today ends a week of exploration, invention, creativity, and inspiration. Nearly 75 students grades 1-6 participated in our district's first year hosting Camp Invention. There are camps all over the United States, and you can find more info at

Our crew consisted of a Director, Assistant Director, 4 teachers, and 4 high school interns. The students participated in 5 full days of FUN, rotating through 4 modules each day. By the end of the week they made some amazing creations & hopefully learned a lot about how science is cool.

The short 40-second video below describes the module I taught, called Super Go. There were 3 other modules ~ Amplified, I Can Invent: Pinbug, and Design Studio: Morphed.

Day 1 of Super Go: Students learned about the green sea slug and how it gets its energy from the sun after having its one and only meal of algae. They made a model of this "plantanimal" - it was awesome and slimy. Next, they used their imagination to design prototypes of vehicles that could morph for land, air, and water transportation & use a nature-inspired fuel.
Day 1 of Super Go - Slime & Group Vehicle Models
Day 2 of Super Go: Students learned about the motions of animals in nature and used the movements as inspiration for their creative vehicle designs. Next, they were given a kit with many parts and had to follow directions and pictures to put together their propeller-based cart. The students had loads of fun trying out their vehicles and zooming them across the floor. We had a few minor crashes and a couple propeller accidents when vehicles crashed against the walls and cabinets, but luckily no crushed vehicles as many feet criss-crossed the room.

Day 2 of Super Go - Exploring Animal Movements & Propeller Vehicle Prototype
Day 3 of Super Go: Students viewed animal feature cards and learned unique characteristics that make living organisms special. They used these ideas for inspiration in designing their vehicles. Next, students changed their vehicle from Day 2 to be a pulley system instead of a propeller. After tinkering around with both models, they decided which model they liked best. Finally, they designed their vehicle and used their earned transportation "coins" to purchase items in the design store. Each child's vehicle was transformed into their own creative design.

Day 3 of Super Go - Animal design cards, materials, & creative vehicles
(more creative vehicles from Day 3)
Day 4 of Super Go: Students were given a chance to finish designing their vehicles and perfect their ideas. They drew blueprint plans including details about their nature-inspired fuel and living organism designs. Then, they used recyclable materials to create tunnels, obstacles, bridges, and ramps to test the abilities of their vehicles and prepare them for tomorrow's Road Race.

Day 4 - Awesome design ideas!
Day 4 - Ramps and a Tunnel

Day 5 of Super Go:  Students arrived in the classroom ready for the big race! They rotated through "Pit Stop" stations in which they tested various properties of their cars. They checked the weight of their car using a spring scale, found it's center of gravity, made some more "morphing" changes, and received a race tattoo. They had an awesome time racing their vehicles two-by-two down two tracks we created in the classroom.

Day 5 - Pit Stop Stations
Day 5 - Ready, Set, Go down the racetrack (fast cars = sorry for the BLUR!)
Day 5 - Lots of kids having an amazing time

Day 5 -  Vehicles are ready to race

Day 5 - Who wants to race next?

What I Learned:
* It's great to try new things, and this experience challenged me to discover how fun the unexpected can be.
* Kids can solve tough problems if you give them the opportunity (and not always the quick answer/fix).
* The youngest students taught me that enthusiasm, giggles, & smiles are the best "payment" for lots of big messes and a huge sense of tiredness by the end of the day.
* The older students taught me that you can't underestimate the incredible ideas that they will come up with when you don't set limits on their creativity.

1 comment:

  1. Really liked the list of "What I Learned"
    Thanks for these reflections.