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Kids learn to go green at Camp Invention

WORTHINGTON -- After decades of pollution and bad waste disposal practices, Sludge City was living up to its name. It needed help.

Fortunately, the students at Camp Invention were available to clean up the entirely imaginary city and then rebuild it bigger, better and greener.

"We should change the name of the town," said Aaron Marsh, who painstakingly built a six inch-tall apartment building out of cardboard tubes and egg cartons.

Marsh, who will start eighth grade in the fall, noted that cardboard was the most recycled material, which was why he chose it.

While Marsh was using rubber bands to bind the apartment building model together, sixth-grader Kaine Hanson put together a tower with a view of the lake near Sludge City. Hanson's tower came complete with lightning rods meant to pick up electricity to augment the city's solar power collectors during thunderstorms.

Other students in the group focused on putting together "solar paneling" on the outside of their cardboard-box buildings.

Though the paneling was only aluminum foil and yellow plastic, the students at Camp Invention were learning all about the real thing while participating in the Saving Sludge City activity.

The day camp started Monday, ends today and features a variety of activities intended to spur children's creativity and encourage them to build and invent in many ways.

One of the most popular activities was the I Can Invent module in which kids bring electronics from home and take them apart. Then, they put together their own electronic inventions using the pieces. I Can Invent is where old electronics go to die and where students bring them to life again in some new and unusual form.

Camp Invention counselor Amy Paulzine supervised the children as they pulled apart old phones, speakers, computer towers, VCRs and DVD players. Nothing was plugged in, and safety goggles were worn at all times in case an object popped apart.

In another room, Camp Invention counselor Deb Heck showed students how to make their own simple and complex craters using golf, ping pong and tennis balls and pink-colored flour.

"We're discovering the surface of Mars because NASA (the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) is soon sending a mission to Mars," Heck explained.

Students learned Newton's laws of motion, developed a model space shuttle for the trip, and after learning how craters would affect a vehicle on the surface of Mars, created model Mars rovers.

In Art Park, students remodeled a sculpture garden, creating miniature-sized mobiles and totem poles to brighten up the garden.

The students of Camp Invention will show their inventions to the public today from 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. at Prairie Elementary. All are welcome to attend.