Monday, June 12, 2006

Camp Invention

When I picked Jack up this afternoon, he was very excited about a new program called Camp Invention that they are doing this week at summer school. Camp Invention is a weeklong summer day program for children entering first through sixth grades. Each Camp Invention Create program contains five modules of curricula, including:

Problem Solving on Planet ZAK®

Science fiction has predicted many of today’s science facts. Problem Solving on Planet ZAK takes children into this wondrous world of science fiction. It gives them experiences that will enhance their creative and critical thinking skills in a sci-fi setting. Children use a variety of creativity tools, including attribute listing, forced relationships, and brainstorming through hands-on construction problems. The module is structured around a six-stage, creative, problem-solving model.

On the first day, children “reassemble” their crashed spacecraft from a variety of common objects. On the second day, they determine relevant weather data and design shelter or clothing for their stay on Planet ZAK. Day three features the use of problem solving to obtain an unusual, hard-to-reach food source. On the last two days, children design ways to launch their spacecraft in time for the “blast-off” countdown. Children add to the fun by making a science fiction movie where they write scripts to describe and evaluate each day’s work. Scripts, constructions, and solutions are presented at the Inventors Showcase program at the end of the week.

Spills and Chills™

Two leading manufacturers have solicited a group of talented designers and engineers (children) to design better safety features for their products.

As designers and engineers, children face numerous challenges during the week. On Day One, they improve a skateboard by making it safer. They test their new skateboard designs with crash-test dummies created from recycled materials. Over the next two days, children work in teams to build and crash test cars, while discovering the physics involved.

They continue their project by testing the structural components of their cars and designing a three-point safety belt for an egg. Then, the children customize their cars by adding new safety inventions that protect drivers and passengers. On the last day, the spills and chills roll on as they send their cars down the ramp and into the wall with the crash dummies in place!

With only five days to research, build, and test their new designs, will the team of designers and engineers be up to the challenge?

Imagination Point: Ride Physics™

Children are introduced to the basic principles of motion through hands-on activities related to rides one might encounter at an amusement park. Working as design interns for the world’s newest and largest amusement park, Imagination Point, they use their discoveries and imaginations to create prototypes of roller coasters and other rides. Before construction begins, they must first explore the science behind amusement park rides.

During the week, children explore Newton’s three laws. On the first day, they explore the first law of motion by conducting an experiment based on a magician’s tablecloth trick and participating in a relay race to understand inertia. Using this knowledge, they design the biggest attraction in the amusement park – the roller coaster! Newton’s second law of motion is demonstrated on the second day. Using balls of different weights, children discover that mass matters when two objects collide. Centripetal force is demonstrated by experimenting with spinning cups, adding the thrill factor to their roller coasters. Newton’s third law of motion is demonstrated on the third day. Children create bumper car paintings to illustrate that, for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

They integrate Newton’s laws of motion with their unique ideas to design other rides for the amusement park. Next, children construct models of their rides, while on the last day, they share their rides with other designers.

AMAZing Games™

Activity and exercise meet creativity and invention in this energetic recreational unit. In AMAZing Games, children use their inventive minds to create exciting, new games.

Like any invention, games improve through modification, making them more competitive, challenging, and responsive to space and equipment limitations. In this unit, children play a variety of games in which they have a chance to change the four main aspects of a game: players, equipment, area, and rules.

I Can Invent™

Imaginations run wild in I Can Invent, as children create an “invention” either individually or in small groups. During the first two days, children participate in the Take Apart™ activity - the single most popular activity in the program. Boys and girls take apart broken or discarded household appliances such as clocks, radios, and telephones. However, before taking items apart, they learn how to use common tools and follow safety precautions. Using parts of these household items, children create a new problem-solving invention or improve an existing product.

Some inventions may work, but most are functional only in the imaginative minds of children. Important lessons in this module include how to keep an Inventor’s Log and how to obtain a patent. Children also market their fantasy inventions, creating advertisements and brainstorming marketing techniques. The culminating activity is a masterful display and oral presentation of these inventions to parents and other participants during the Inventors Showcase program at the end of the week.

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