Camp Invention at Gateway teaches students balance between creativity, STEM | #education | #technology | #training

Students tapped into their creativity and problem-solving skills as they constructed Astro-Arm devices, created arcade games and built aquatic habitats at Camp Invention, hosted at Gateway High School.

Camp Invention is a nationally recognized nonprofit summer enrichment program on science, technology, engineering and math- based education.

“In the morning we have what we call a base camp, where the kids can do an active participation game that involves either group work or individual work,” said James Pottinger, camp director. “Then we move them to their first module, where they spend an hour and 15 minutes working on the lesson for the day. This way, they have a good balance of physical activity and learning.”

Toward the middle of the day, the campers gather back at base camp, where they participate in camp games. Camp Invention’s program wanted to put an emphasis on the balance between being in the classroom and making sure campers stayed active throughout the week.

The camp consists of three learning modules that the students, ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade, build on throughout the week. Spacecation immerses students into space exploration technology where they learn to build Spacepacks and Astro-Arm devices, mine an asteroid and learn about erupting ice volcanoes.

Campers also learn about physics, engineering and gaming as they design, build and test their own marble arcades.

“Marble Arcade is one of the areas where students are learning about levers and angles, and resistance and friction,” said Pottinger. “They get to see those factors directly impact the construction of their arcade game.”

Campers became acquainted with the ocean as they participated in the Robotic Aquatics module. Children explored cutting-edge ocean research while they adopted their own aquatic animals, designed and patented aquatic plants, and built their own aquatic habitats.

“I started out teaching science, and it’s just something that I love to teach,” said Chris Jordan, an instructor running Robotic Aquatics. “This is a great opportunity for me to teach the older kids, and the camp lessons are fabulous because they’re so well laid out and the kids get the most out of it because everything is so organized.”

Students also delved into the technological side of art in The Attic. While learning about how new technology assists creation, campers created their own spin art and saw how thoughts about design translate into technology.

To assist campers with their projects, an equipment closet filled with recycled supplies was open for students to gather what they needed.

The camp also offers an opportunity for students in the Leader in Training Program. Students in sixth through ninth grades train to become counselors at Camp Invention. The next step of the program is the Leadership Intern position, where students in grades 10 through 12 are able to apply as a volunteer counselor and receive 40 community service hours plus a recommendation letter from Camp Invention.

Each module includes a lesson plan that was sent to educators helping with the camp. Plans included supplies for the projects and videos to be used for visual aids. As the children progressed through the camp, each lesson built on itself, and campers were able to watch as their works developed.

At the end of the week, students and parents were able to see how their finished projects came together at a gallery presenting each creation.

Camp Invention occurs annually at multiple locations. Gateway High School has hosted students for the past seven years. For more information about Camp Invention or to enroll in the camp, visit

Hayley Daugherty is a contributing writer.

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