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Prairie students enjoy week at Camp Invention

Third-graders Ben Dykema (back) and Miles Ficher participate Thursday in Camp Invention at Prairie Elementary. (Erin Trester/Daily Globe)

WORTHINGTON — School may be out for summer, but elementary students who participated this week in Camp Invention at Prairie Elementary are still wearing their thinking caps.

Students have been participating all this week in classes focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention.

“This is a chance for kids to be in school in a different way, and it lets them be their most creative selves,” said Jodi Hansen, director of Camp Invention. “This is for students — incoming first- through sixth-graders — who are interested in the sciences.”

This is the eighth year Prairie Elementary has participated in this program, where students take four classes a day for a week and play fun interactive games.

“The two classes in the morning are amplified learning, which teaches students about the five senses through fun activities,” Hansen explained. “The second one is called SuperGO!, which has students making little cars with motors, but the catch is they have to be prepared for different environments such as being underwater or in the air. It’s really fun to see what they come up with.”

In one of the evening classes, students were asked to bring old electronics that no longer work to use in building an invention. Students this year were tasked with making a pinball machine out of cardboard, as well as from their old electronic pieces.

“They already made the pinball shooter that shoots the ball into the game, so it’ll be so interesting to see when they have it all done,” Hansen said.

The second evening class, Design Studio Morphed, has students work on one big design project throughout the week.

“We’re working on a robot dog,” said Miles Ficher, age 9. “We’re building it so it can do tricks like roll over and shake your hand.”

Hansen said Camp Invention is a way for students to get their creative juices flowing.

“We have designated classes and games for students, but within those classes it’s really unstructured and students are free to be creative,” she said. “Students keep an inventor’s log where they write down their ideas every day, and it’s amazing to read some of them.” 

Hansen brought the program to Worthington after attending a conference for science teachers.

“I decided right then that we needed to bring this program for our kids, and Prairie Elementary as well as the whole district has been very supportive,” Hansen said. 

Camp Invention is hosting an open house from 2:30 to 3 p.m. today for people to view what students have built. The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on how to participate in Camp Invention next summer, contact Jodi Hansen at Worthington High School at 376-6121.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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