Camp Invention Challenges Young Imaginations

children building a castle

Children in Camp Invention participate in a variety of investigations, experiments and engineering challenges, including building a giant castle out of bendy straws, pipe cleaners and tape.

Ethan Channell aspires to be a web-slinging crime fighter by the time he reaches high school.

That's right. The 7-year-old wants to be Spider-Man, and he's banking on learning plenty at this week's Camp Invention at Radford University to help him achieve superhero status.

Ethan is one of 108 children on campus this week for Camp Invention, a week of investigations, experiments and engineering challenges. For the fourth year, the university's College of Science and Technology is hosting and directing Camp Invention for rising first through sixth graders.

"The children exhibit boundless curiosity and amazing creativity, and we are thrilled that 108 of these future scientists and inventors are in Curie and Reed halls this week for Camp Invention," said Orion Rogers, dean of the college. "We are dedicated to science education and outreach, and we consider Camp Invention to be a wise investment of time and resources that will be returned with future college students who share our passion for learning science, technology and mathematics."

Camp Invention 2012 is sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame and this year is offering a curriculum that allows eager-to-learn schoolchildren to use engineering design and mathematics to build and explore an island, travel in a time machine to observe great moments in inventing history, use coordination and creative problem-solving techniques to play games, and invent and create machines capable of bursting balloons.

So what can Ethan Channell learn at Camp Invention that will transform him into the next Peter Parker?

"I can learn how to make reactions so I can make electricity and then put a spider in it and let it bite me," said Ethan, sporting a Star Wars T-shirt as he waited in Curie Hall for his next class to begin.

It sounds as if the Belle Heth Elementary School student has all the details worked out, but why Spider-Man? With a look that said, "Duh! Isn't it obvious?" Ethan explained, "He swings on webs. He climbs up walls. He fights villains!"

Eight-year-old Mason Maykowsky of Blacksburg also had his future in mind when he enrolled in Camp Invention. When he grows up, he wants to be a "scientist-slash-arachnologist and also an inventor," he said.

Wait. Mason wants to study spiders, and Ethan wants to be a human spider. Maybe there's a partnership in the future for the two as a crime-fighting duo.

"He could be Spidey-Kid," Ethan suggested. Mason, not ready to give up his bright future as a scientist and inventor, said, "I could be, like, your assistant. I could come up with new gadgets or something."

With that settled, the two went off to learn how to build a machine that can burst water balloons.

Watch your step, Green Goblin!

Jun 19, 2012
Chad Osborne