This article can be found published on the Daily Local News‘ website.
WEST GOSHEN — Just because it’s officially summertime doesn’t mean it’s time for children to stop exercising their brain, and that’s where Camp Invention comes in handy in the West Chester Area School District.
The weeklong camp, held once in June and again in July, is designed to keep students from all over Chester County, from first through sixth grade, off the computers, phones and television screens and instead using their creativity and imagination.
“It’s all about imagination, invention and creation to let their minds work,” said Susan Farrelly, a gifted resource teacher in the district who leads the camp. “They’re given a problem and they have to come up with solutions to the problem. There is a lot of group work, collaboration and problem solving, working through some bumps in the road as far as cooperation.”
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This is the camp’s 11th year being held in the district, this time around at Peirce Middle School.
Though it is held in West Chester, the camp is open to students from all over the area.
Camp Invention changes the curriculum every summer to give the participants something new.
This summer, the camp has four stations: CrickoBot, Epic Park, I Can Invent and Where Pigs Fly.
CrickoBot has the campers working with solar energy and biology.
“They make a solar-powered cricket and build a house for it,” Farrelly said. “They learn about the exoskeleton and the ecosystems for the insects and the sounds that crickets make.”
The students also made motorized spider predators as well in the class.
Epic Park has the campers creating tourist attractions at a theme park, including designing zip lines, water flumes and hi-tech eco-gear.
In The Lab: Where Pigs Fly, campers dive into demolitions, coding, squid, slime and sound-activated lights, showing that anyone can even do the impossible.
However, the favorite is I Can Invent.
“They take an old household appliance, whether a boom box, a remote control or clock radios, take it apart and use those components plus recyclable items and create a new invention,” Farrelly said.
Though the camp activities are for first through sixth graders, but the camp also welcomes students up through high school.
“We have first- through sixth-graders as campers, we have sixth- (through) eighth-graders as counselors-in-training and we have volunteers that are at the high school level and they’re our leadership interns,” Farrelly said. “It’s a whole internship program (for high schoolers) where they watch training videos and they get certification.”
Camp Invention will continue through the week, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The second camp of the summer will take place at West Chester Henderson High School in July.
Farrelly is continually impressed by what the students are able to do year after year in the camp.
“(They can) identify different minerals and work together collaboratively to make a zip line,” she said. “The older kids can use different materials and pull them together and the ideas they can create is pretty amazing.”