Camp Invention is unlike many other camps. Instead of hiking and swimming, children are encouraged to grow their knowledge about science to create their own inventions.

During the week of July 24, Camp Invention was held at New Prague High School for students in kindergarten through sixth grade. The goals of the program were to encourage learning, creativity, work together, and to have fun doing it all. A mission that was happily accomplished.

Organizer Jodi Prchal said this is the fourth year of Camp Invention, and 74 children took part in the STEM-based experience. To make sure the week was a resounding success, she enlisted the help of four teachers and several volunteers. These included the New Prague High School Robotics Team, three high school students, four retired community members, one camp parent and three parent helpers. In addition, there were “Counselors-in-Training,” student leaders who attended camp and at the same time, helped other campers who may have been new to the experience.

“We had a heck of a good time this week,” Prchal told the campers and their families during the welcome ceremony held in the New Prague High School auditorium before the Invention Showcase. “Thanks to everyone for all their hard work.”

Prchal explained that they used the Launch Curriculum from Camp Invention. this included Operation Keep Out, where students took apart small appliances to invent their own alarm boxes. During the Duct Tape Billionaire session, students made creations out of duct tape that they thought would be marketable. Other sessions had them making water rockets from recycled bottles and then launching them. In another session they invented their own sling-shots, and another had them create an Exo-Planet where they designed their own planet ecosystems, grew crystal trees and “hatched” imaginary critters.

“The best thing about the week is we did different things every day,” Camper Taylor Blumberg stated after showing her mother her inventions from the week.

From the perspective of the campers, Camp Invention was a fun way to be creative and use their imaginations. Prchal added that those skills and the science principles behind them that make Camp Invention such a valuable experience.

“STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) promotion is so important. That is where the jobs are and we need students to think outside the box, unplug and use their creativity and problem solving skills in a hands-on way.”

Plan ahead for next summer

Prchal is already thinking about next year’s Camp Invention, and she’s asking families to as well. She wants everyone to know that around Christmas time Camp Invention will have a $30-off special for several months.

To learn more about the program, visit www.campinvention.org, developed from the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame.

Lori Nickel is the publisher and editor of the Lonsdale News-Review. Reach her at 507-744-2551.

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