Kendra Baker photosMore than 100 rising first- through sixth-graders engaged in innovative and creative projects at Wilton\u2019s Camp Invention, July 31 through Aug. 4. The week-long day camp is designed to not only foster innovation and creativity in students, but also build self-esteem, teamwork, persistence and goal-setting skills. Camp Invention Director Bryan Ennis said Camp Invention in Wilton, held at Wilton High School, has increased in size over the last three years. \u201cWe went from 80 kids to 90 kids to 120 kids this year,\u201d he said. Including leadership interns and counselors-in-training, Ennis said, he had 150 kids under the age of 18 in this year\u2019s program, as well as seven adults\u00a0\u2014 five instructors, one assistant director and himself. Leadership interns included rising 10th-, 11th- and 12th-graders, said Ennis, and the camp instructors were Wilton public school employees\u00a0\u2014 from first and second grade teachers to library media specialists and physical education teachers. The number of female campers has also increased, said Ennis \u2014 from roughly 25% in 2015 to almost 40% this year. Ennis said this is something he\u2019s \u201cvery excited about,\u201d considering research and studies that have shown an underrepresentation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields. Camp Invention features a new theme each year. This year\u2019s theme, \u201cLaunch,\u201d focused on outer space and included five modules: Mission Space Makers, Have a Blast, Operation Keep Out, Duct Tape Billionaire, and Camp Invention Games. Ennis said Camp Invention is \u201cnever boring\u201d because \u201ceverything changes\u201d each year \u2014\u00a0from the campers to the projects. Mission Space Makers Through Mission Space Makers, campers got to experience the power of rocket science by building and launching rubber band rockets, explore National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees and NASA engineers, and work together to not only grow plants, but their interest in science and space as well. Campers made their own exoplanets and designed inventions that transformed their planet\u2019s atmosphere, terrain and ecosystem. Have a Blast Through Have a Blast, campers applied engineering principles to create cardboard castles and design pulley systems to raise castle flags, and build \u201csnowball\u201d throwers, air cannons and water rockets made from plastic bottles. On the last day of camp, they built \u201cmachines\u201d to harness bubbles. Operation Keep Out During the Operation Keep Out module, campers built their own spy gadget alarm boxes. Campers spent a couple days writing and sketching design ideas before taking apart non-working machines and devices \u2014 from keyboards and computers to coffee-makers and handheld vacuums \u2014 \u00a0to investigate their inner operations, explore mechanical and electrical machine parts, and build their alarms. Ennis said campers used 126 different tools \u201cthat they have never used before\u201d to create the alarms. Duct Tape Billionaire For Duct Tape Billionaire, campers designed and built their own duct tape creations, explored patents, talked about copyright, and learned how businesses are launched. The module was designed to not only engage students in creative thinking, but also have them explore invention from a real-world point-of-view and practice skills entrepreneurs use to launch new products. \u201cEarly on, they built wallets and purses out of duct tape,\u201d said Ennis. Later on, he said, campers were given names of products and they had to work in groups to come up with names, slogans and logos. A time-traveling Jeep called the Time Travel 3000 and teddy bear-shaped television called the TV Teddy were just some of the things campers came up with. Games The fifth module took place in the high school\u2019s Zeoli Field House, where campers played different games. For one of the games, campers split into four groups and were given eight supplies. Each group had to select a \u201crunner\u201d who would approach the other groups and try to trade supplies in an effort to collect \u201ceight pieces of the same thing,\u201d said Ennis. For example, Ennis said, one group had to collect eight balls. \u201cThey would run to groups and say, \u2018Can I trade you this ball for your orange cup? Deal or no deal?\u2019\u201d he said, and the group would either agree to trade or say, \u201cNo deal.\u201d The runners had to do that until all eight pieces were collected for their groups. Teamwork What makes the camp \u201cneat,\u201d said Ennis, is that students learn to collaborate and work in groups. Although campers were given the opportunity to be \u201ccreative by themselves,\u201d said Ennis, most of Camp Invention is focused on teamwork. \u201cThe big thing \u2014 and\u00a0what parents really love\u00a0\u2014\u00a0is that the kids get opportunities to work in groups, which can be tough for the younger kids, and even the older kids.\u201d More info is available at: campinvention.org.