EPISD students are embracing the power of innovation this week at Lundy Elementary School, with more than 40 students signed up for “Camp Invention.”
The enrichment program was created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame to help inspire students in elementary-school grades to use their imaginations and become future innovators in STEAM-related fields.
Camp director and teacher Crystal Echaniz learned about the camp during a miniCAST conference and thought it would be a great program to host at Lundy.
“The camp helps kids discover through science and hands-on activities while having fun,” Echaniz said. “They are learning it’s okay to make mistakes and learn from them. If something doesn’t work they figure out how to make it better.”
During the weeklong camp, students are divided into three groups that cycle through the four different learning modules.
Each module is designed to teach students a different STEAM concept, such as learning about the physics of launching a rocket in Have a Blast or engineering their own alarm in Operation Keep Out.
Duct Tape Millionaire teaches students the value of their work and relative concepts like intellectual property. Lundy first-grader David Pakizer was busy making his own creation, using pipe cleaners and colorful duct tape.
“They gave us pretend money so we get to buy stuff,” David said. “We make different products using duct tape. I’m making a gummy bear.”
Mesita fourth-grader Gregory Sides grinned ear-to-ear as his group brainstormed how to best make their planet flourish during the Mission Space Makers module. He loves anything to do with science, but his favorite part of the camp is Operation Keep Out.
“I’ve always wanted to be an engineer so it’s been lots of fun taking apart electronics to make an alarm,” Gregory said. “I’m always interested in trying to build new inventions. I’m thinking of a new invention call ‘quad-ski,’ which is a jet ski that can turn into a car.”
Lundy fifth-grade student Sydney Rumpf is enjoying building skills in different areas of study.
“I’ve learned a lot of new vocabulary words I didn’t know,” Sydney said. “Another thing I’ve learned is that you just can’t go to a planet and put a house there. You have to actually grow plants and make it a good place to live.”
Teacher Suzy DeMore loves seeing the students work out their ideas, both in their inventor notebook and as a model.
“They are terraforming a planet to make it habitable, so maybe in the future when they are scientists they can think of ways to make planets like Mars a viable place to live,” DeMore said.
Sydney has a few ideas up her sleeve about how to make colonization in another planet successful.
“I think we need to build different domes for your resources and shelter,” Sydney said. “You still get the sunlight and inside you can control the environment and have oxygen.”