Camp teaches problem-solving skills to kids

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Campers try to catch a fish with the fishing rods they made during the Deep Sea Mystery at Camp Invention Tuesday at Faith Christian School.


Staff Writer

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

There is a large gathering of scientists and inventors at Faith Christian School this week — and they all are age 12 and under.

Faith Christian School is one of three local sites for Camp Invention, a nationally recognized STEM program that offers a four-day summer day camp for elementary-aged children.

Local camp director Susan Camp said 19 students are enrolled for the week and they have been busy inventing things, solving problems and having fun.

Camp, a middle school English teacher at Faith Christian School, said they have children enrolled that attend schools all over the county. The goal of the camp is to make a difference in how children look at problems and improve their problem-solving skills.

“It’s about teaching them to think outside the box to solve problems,” Camp said. “To not be afraid to try untried solutions and how making a try and making a mistake can ultimately lead to a solution.”

Camp said every year the camp modules and assignments are different, but there always is the theme of learning the scientific process: Looking at a problem, forming a hypothesis, performing experiments and drawing conclusions. Camp Invention emphasizes teamwork and creativity.

Camp teacher Kelly Leonard, a first-grade teacher at Faith Christian School, said what she likes most about the camp is how it improves the children’s critical thinking skills.

“It’s different from how most of us as teachers teach in the classroom, which is putting what students need to learn in front of them with the goal being mastering the skills,” Leonard said. “This camp teaches via a higher order of learning, developing their thinking skills and stretching them to think out scenarios, to imagine how one might solve the problem and then act it out — see if your idea works.”

Using hands-on activities, Camp Invention promotes science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning; builds confidence, leadership, perseverance, resourcefulness and problem-solving skills; and encourages entrepreneurship — all in a fun and engaging environment.

“We need kids to learn like this,” Leonard said. “I think it’s important for kids to have an opportunity to learn at a camp like this, where they’re having so much fun and absorbing so much in, they don’t even realize how much they’re learning.”

Stella Schank, 9, is participating in the camp for the second year and said she likes how she can design things.

“Being on a team and getting to create stuff is what I like most about camp. We use our ideas — we don’t steal ideas but we share them — and try to figure out how to make something cool,” she said. So far, her favorite thing she has made is a robot dog she made at last year’s Camp Invention.

The Faith Christian camp had some actual engineers join in on the fun on Tuesday. Employees from Keihin in Tarboro, an engineering-based manufacturing plant, partner with the school and offer their services and know-how to assist teachers.

John Renck said Keihin has a real interest in making sure there are plenty of STEM-educated residents in the Twin Counties.

“Keihin is always interested in getting kids involved early in STEM learning. The goal is to get kids this age involved, then get them educated and then we want to hire them,” Renck said.

On Tuesday, Renck was happy to see his group of elementary-aged kids work on creating the best fishing rod to hold the most weight.

“This is where it starts,” he said. “These are our future engineers, mathematicians, mechanics, IT experts and maintenance experts.”

There are two more Camp Invention opportunities for Twin Counties kids. D.S. Johnson and Coopers elementary schools both are hosting Camp Invention camps from June 24-27. To get more information or register, contact Karen Boone for the D.S. Johnson camp at kfboone@nrms.k12.nc.us and register online for the Coopers Elementary Camp at www.invent.org/programs/camp-invention.