Inventing future leaders

During the summer you might expect to find the hallways of Priceville Jr. High School empty other than the occasional employee, but last week during Camp Invention it was overflowing with not only students, but ideas.

 

Camp Invention was host to around 70 kids last week, and is a science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) camp. The camp is part of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and is open to students throughout Morgan County. This year was the third year that the camp was held in Priceville.

 

“The main purpose of this camp is to inspire kids to be creative thinkers and problem solvers. They learn about inventors and the processes to invent and that it includes failure. Learning to overcome failure in a fun and creative environment is so important and is a positive part of it,” Julia James, Camp Director, said.

 

At the camp, the students were able to build optibots and test dog “urine” samples for various issues. They were also able to build and decorate their own model mansions. James said that the camp tries to inspire kids that no idea is too outlandish, and that everything can be tried.

 

“I really like the creative process the students are involved in. Even if it is almost fantastical or mythological, it is their idea and their creation. It takes the invention process and shows them that it is across all aspects of life,”James said.

 

The idea behind the camp is that even if they do not become inventors, they know how to use the critical thinking and creativeness behind inventing. While the students are learning about inventions and inventors, they are also learning life skills.

 

“It gives them opportunity to use these creative skills. It is an important skill in today’s job market, and it is important for everyday life to learn and think critically and solve problems,” James said.

 

The camp also helps older students through a leadership program. College and high school students are able to volunteer as leadership interns, and by the end of the week they will have 40 hours of volunteer experience. There is also a middle school program that allows the student to shadow the counselors and learn leadership skills.

 

Anneliese Kruger is one of the leadership interns at the camp. “For the students it allows them to be creative. In school things are usually only allowed one way, and Camp Invention is not like that at all. For me, I am looking at careers and whether or not I want to go with education it helps me gain experience and skills,” she said.

 

Gracie Jo Echols is shadowing Kruger this year, after being a camper last year. “I think that I want to be a teacher and I am learning about that from Anneliese,” she said.

 

Echols said that one of her favorite parts of camp was the encouraging atmosphere. “Kids get to be whoever they want to be. There is a no bullying allowed. The kids are learning what to do, and someday they may do great things because of what they learn here,” she said.

 

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