Inventors' Showcase celebrates childhood creativity and curiosity

student-inventor launching rubber ducks

An inventor reacts as his rubber duck falls just short of the target during testing on Thursday morning.

Under the shade of the maple tree in front of Reed-Curie Hall, Camp Inventors' Showcase ceremony celebrated a week of thinking, problem-solving, fun and discovery.

More than 80 aspiring inventors and scientists with a sprinkling of future soldiers, teachers or undecideds joined their families Friday to marvel at the results of a week devoted to science, engineering and mathematics. The Inventors' Showcase opened with a camp song and ended with parents, grandparents and siblings trailing excited children from room to room to inspect and collect the projects constructed during the camp.

The elementary-school age children built catapults, created volcanoes and sailed rock boats in a quest for Quack coins and medals. They also virtually explored the world, worked out solutions to problems as teammates and stretched themselves.

"I learned that anything is possible with a little work," said Joshua Parsons, second-grader from Radford who wants to be an engineer, or maybe a baseball player.

His sister Ashley, a fourth-grader, exuberantly demonstrated the catapult, or Duck Chucker, that heaved a plastic duck into a kiddie pool. Her team cannibalized parts for their Duck Chucker from discarded items brought from home on the camp's opening day.   "I couldn’t wait to get here in the morning to see what we would do next," she said.

Her Camp Inventors' teammate and fellow fourth-grader, teammate Karen Nicholson, added: "I wish school every day was like this."

Camp Inventors' participants watch as their volanco erupts.

Camp Inventors' participants watch as their volanco erupts.

Rachel Lillard, a senior elementary education major from Radford was one of five RU students who served as Leadership Interns, or counselors. The college students assisted the seven person staff of area teachers to work with the students and manage the camp's curriculum that immerses children in imaginative play that supplements school-year learning in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

"The kids were very creative with their inventions," she said.  "For me, the camp provided a good chance to work with experienced teachers and learn team work activities from them that I can incorporate when I have my own classroom."

Camp Director Erin Buttery, a Bland County fifth-grade teacher, said that Camp Invention, now in its fifth year at RU, is a hands-on program designed to challenge children to explore, discover and learn on their own. It includes four modules through which the students cycled daily called Ecoverse, Cache Dash, Amazing Atlas Games and I Can Invent.

"At home every night, Joshua and Ashley talked about how much fun they were having," said Stephanie Parsons '93. "It is nice to come back to campus and see them having fun and learning here."

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Jul 2, 2013
Dan Waidelich
(540) 831-7749