Campers get hands-on STEM experience

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Kendra Baker photos
More than 80 first- through sixth-graders attended Wilton’s first-ever Camp Invention, a summer camp focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), at Wilton High School.
Sponsored by Wilton Continuing Education, the camp was designed to foster innovation and creativity while building self-esteem, teamwork, persistence and goal-setting skills.
“Camp Invention is an opportunity for children to be creative, collaborate in groups to solve problems, persevere through trial and error, adjust their initial ideas to modify their inventions to come up with a solution, and it was an opportunity for campers to be challenged through different scenarios and obstacles,” Camp Invention Director Bryan Ennis said.
Beginning July 6, campers spent four days investigating circuits, disassembling household appliances and examining science and technology concepts with the help of local educators.
“Of the 19 staff members, we had one director, one assistant director, four instructors, 10 leadership interns and three counselors-in-training,” said Ennis, who is also a first grade teacher at Miller-Driscoll.
Campers rotated through four modules each day, said Ennis, which gave them “opportunities to explore, invent, create, collaborate and experiment.” The four modules were:

  • Design Studio: Illuminate: Campers explored what it means to prototype a product from scratch.

  • I Can Invent: Next Level Gamers: Campers used tools to take apart broken and unused appliances, like old tape decks, VCRs and old computers, and created their own physical 3D maze game models.

  • Inducted: Campers took part in hands-on activities like constructing super-structure mega-towers and assembling space rockets “that could be propelled with air to land in a kiddie pool,” which represented a moon, said Ennis.

  • KartWheel: Campers worked in groups to create vehicles out of recyclable items that could navigate a course on a 24-inch skateboard.

Ennis said the best part about camp was the Inventor’s Showcase on Friday, July 10.
“Friday’s event was a showcase for parents to come in and experience a glimpse of what their children experienced throughout the week,” he said, “and it was an opportunity for the children to show off the inventions they worked so hard on.”
Ennis said it was “great seeing how excited the campers were to try their ideas and modify their older prototypes” this year.
“I was very impressed on how creative and inventive the campers were,” said Ennis. “Every day, they came in with a willingness to work hard and challenge themselves.”
Ennis said options for a second summer of Camp Invention in Wilton will be explored in the late fall.
“We would like to run the camp again next year,” he said, “and the best part about that is that we would not have the same four modules next year, but a completely new set to challenge the campers.”
Click here for more information on Camp Invention.