News Column

Young minds: Local students make inventions in weeklong camp

June 27, 2014

By Ben Middelkamp, Pharos-Tribune, Logansport, Ind.

June 27--WALTON -- Hannah Plaushin and Cana Jones, fifth-graders at Galveston Elementary School, both brought in CD players to Lewis Cass Jr.-Sr. High School -- not to listen to music, but to take apart.

That was one of the four rotations of activities at Camp Invention, a weeklong summer enrichment program taking place this week at Lewis Cass for first- through sixth-graders.

It's Hannah and Cana's first year at Camp Invention, a program that the Southeastern School Corp. has had for eight years.

"I love the inventions that we can just make," Hannah said.

Cindy Leduc, director of Camp Invention and fourth-grade teacher at Galveston, said the day camp gives students an education in STEM fields -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

"It's definitely something different than what we get to do in the classroom on a regular basis," Leduc said, "because this is a lot of free thinking and you trying to figure out what works and what doesn't."

Invent Now is the nonprofit that runs the nationwide program, and it's also supported through the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

At Lewis Cass, there are four classes for students: "Pinbug," "Amplified," "Design Studio" and "Super Go."

"Pinbug" is also referred to as "Take Apart," and students bring in old electronics from home to take apart and make into something new. This year, they have to make a pinball machine that's designed around a bug.

Hannah and Cana had to design their "Pinbug" machine like a butterfly. So they're using old speakers as the wings.

"It was pretty fun to do the take apart," Cana said," and getting to be creative when we're building stuff."

At the "Amplified" class, Kathy Bibby, second-grade teacher at Thompson Elementary, taught students about the five senses. The kids were able to look at 3-D pictures, smell different substances and also taste paper to see how their taste buds work.

Cana tasted bitter chocolate on the paper and Hannah thought it tasted like lemon.

Bryan Stewart, special education teacher at Galveston, led students in "Super Go," a class about how cars and motion works. He said they've combined how animal motion works with how transportation works.

"The idea is to make a car that can climb a wall or fly or go underwater," Stewart said. "Now obviously we can't really do that in here, so we're inventing things that we think will work."

The students added propellers, rubber bands, balloons and other things to see what makes a car work best.

The fourth class is the "Design Studio," where students come up with invention designs. Micah Bruner, who last school year was a first-grade teacher at Thompson, said a lot of kids designed robot animals at first.

They then designed high-speed communication devices Thursday as well as brainstorming about inventions that can make people's lives better.

Bruner said some students came up with robots that can help with cleaning the house or doing homework. And some sketched an idea for animal prosthetics, which was brought to their attention from a video from the inventors hall of fame that talked about prosthetics.

Leduc also said they hired three Lewis Cass high school students to help out at Camp Invention. Those students have been attending the camp almost every year. One of them, Nolan Sharpless, helps out in the "Super Go" class.

Leduc also many students come back to Camp Invention each year, much of it through word of mouth. Even a couple of her students during the school year were able to use things from the camp during class.

Hannah and Cana are still improving their "Pinbug" machine to operate just like a butterfly from CD player parts and cardboard.

Reach Ben Middelkamp at or 574-732-5117.


(c)2014 the Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, Ind.)

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Source: Pharos-Tribune (Logansport, IN)

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