Camp Invention lets kids get hands on science at Brook Forest School
Ian Kanjirath, 7, Ethan Bhatia, 6, and Jaden Schmit, 6, take the parts off of electronic devices to create a machine or tool that will pop a balloon during Camp Invention at Brook Forest School in Oak Brook. | Ruthie Hauge~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 22, 2012 6:19AM
The 2011-2012 school year has ended at Brook Forest School, but Isha Rao, who just finished first grade, didn’t mind returning for a week to participate in Camp Invention.
This is the first year Brook Forest has hosted Camp Invention. Ohio-based nonprofit organization Invent Now created the program, which is dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention, promoting creativity and advancing the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship, according to information from the group.
During the week-long program at Brook Forest, 109 students in kindergarten through sixth grade took advantage of an opportunity to have some fun with science.
“This is more funner than just being at home, so I like to come here,” Rao said. “This camp is about … inventing stuff, and it’s fun. We got to make tie-dyed shirts.”
The camp was not limited to Brook Forest students. Fifty to 60 percent of the attendees are from the host school, said Michelle Brown, camp director, who said there is a base cost of $220 for the week.
“This is a camp for kids who want to experience science that isn’t in the classroom,” Brown said. “It’s very much hands on. There sometimes is a stigma that goes with a science camp; a lot of parents think their kids won’t be interested, but this is more of a discover camp.”
Camp Invention at Brook Forest was divided into five modules: Balloon Burst, Hatched, Power’d, Gadget Garage, and Action and Adventure Games.
In Balloon Burst, students created balloon-breaking machines. In Hatched, students built their own model avatar to interact within a disappearing virtual world. Power’d offered students a chance to explore static electricity, circuits and ways to power direct-current motors. Gadget Garage allowed students to act as a studio crew to design, create, test and recreate challenge-solving gadgets that light up, sound off and rotate. And Action and Adventure Games combined physical activity with creativity for some games.
“There’s definitely a team-building aspect in this,” Brown said “Our activities force independent thinkers to work together.”
While Camp Invention is only a one-week program, Butler District 53 is offering iTech Camp 2012 Aug. 6-10 at Butler Junior High.
Students in that program work on projects, an approach designed to engage and challenge. They will be exposed to new and emerging technologies and enhance their critical thinking and technological skills.
More information about iTech Camp 2012 is available by contacting instructor Steve Ryan at email@example.com.
Brown said she was surprised by the large number of students who registered for Camp Invention in its first year.
“We didn’t really know what to expect for a first year, but that is a great response,” she said. “This is the type of community that really embraces the kinds of things we do with the kids.”
Brown said she hopes to return in 2013 with a new Camp Invention at Brook Forest.
“We have a new curriculum each year,” she said.
Alyssa Lee, who will be a fifth-grader in the fall at Brook Forest, would like to return for another round of camp.
“It’s really good; it gives you a chance to work your brain and have fun at the same time,” she said. “We have more freedom to do things here than you would in class.”