Camp Invention returns to Steamboat |

Camp Invention returns to Steamboat

Jack Weinstein
John Kuntz, 6, works on his invention during the Power'd session of Camp Invention on Wednesday.Matt Stensland

— As she crafted a wreath from plastic bottles Wednesday, an invention to replace the one that always gets stuck in her family's front door during Christmas, Emily Armstrong explained how she wound up at Camp Invention.

Emily, 9, a fourth-grader next year at Soda Creek Elementary School, said her 7-year-old sister, Lilli, wanted to attend the summer day camp and thought Emily would like it, too.

Lilli was right.

"I love coming here," Emily said. "We get to do all of these fun programs. Every day is a new one."

Camp Invention, a weeklong summer enrichment program, came to Steamboat Springs for the first time last summer. Camp activities emphasize creative problem solving and critical-thinking skills through hands-on activities in science, technology, engineering and math fields, known as STEM.

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Camp director Kris Rowse said it was so well received last year by students entering first through sixth grades who participated that she decided to bring it back.

"It's all about the kids," she said. "To see them enthusiastic about science is really cool."

The camp moved this year to Steamboat Springs High School from Strawberry Park Elemen­tary School. Rowse said because about 60 percent of the 113 campers participated last year, there is a different format this summer.

The camp started Monday and ends today. Separated by age, campers rotate through five modules, spending an hour in each between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.

In Power'd, they create robotic creatures. They learn about economics through virtual worlds in Hatched. They focus on science, math and art in SMArt. In Global Games, they learn about ancient sports and create equipment with recyclable materials. And in I Can Invent, younger campers create fantasy inventions while the older campers have to create something to solve a challenge.

Alicia Mitchell, who will be a fourth-grader next year at Soda Creek, worked to make a contraption that would open a door when her dog stepped on it.

"It's fun," the 9-year-old said about Camp Invention. "There's, like, lots of fun activities, and there is all different things you can do. You can invent stuff, and you can play fun games, and you can see how electronics work. I also like learning stuff."

Continuing to learn during summer is important for children, said the Steamboat elementary school teachers hired as Camp Invention instructors.

"Almost every kid regresses over the summer," said Alohi Madrigal, a third-grade teacher at Strawberry Park and the I Can Invent module instructor. "It's important to have their brain juices flowing. This is a good thing. They're having fun, and they don't even realize they're learning while they do it."

Seven-year-old Andy Hend­erson, who will be in first grade next year at Strawberry Park, worked Wednesday to refine his creature, which danced in circles when a toothpick propeller spun. Andy couldn't say what his favorite thing was about Camp Invention.

"I pretty much like everything here," he said. "It's really fun."

Camp Invention, a program of the nonprofit Invent Now Kids, has grown to include nearly 1,500 sites in 49 states since it was created in 1990, according to a news release. More than 65,000 children nationwide have participated, the release stated.