Camp combines science, creativity and summer fun

Fourth grade student Quinn Baker is a self-proclaimed science geek.

He spent the last week building motor-powered race cars and creating inventions based off insect joint movements.

Camp Invention is a week-long summer program that educates children on the core curriculum disciplines of science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The camp combines the playfulness of summer camp with the principles of science classrooms, creating a dynamic environment for young people to bring their ideas to life.

This year the students are studying plants and insects and their project is to create pinball machines.

“They are taking what they learn about the way animals and bugs move and then they’re incorporating that into their pin ball machine. They can take the flipper of a certain animal and use that idea to be the flipper,” camp director Carly Wimer said.

“I think that creativity is often suffocated in the classroom because things in schools are so structured nowadays and you really have to follow curriculum and so it’s nice to just have the kids have that open-ended exploration,” said Wimer, who is also a kindergarten teacher at South Bay Elementary.

The campers spend their days rotating through modules that encourage them to express their ideas and then bring those thoughts to life. They scamper back and forth from their module room to the inventor’s supply closet, a room bursting with tin foil, plastic bottles and old computer hard drives that the students are encouraged to take apart.

Camp Invention has grown in Thurston County since it began in 2002; South Bay hosted 52 students last week, which is more than double what they had last year. This is also the first year that another school will host camp invention alongside South Bay, the second camp will run from July 21-25 for third through sixth grade students at the NOVA school, sign ups for NOVA’s Camp Invention are still open on the school’s website.