Students test creative, inventive skills
SPRUCE PINE – Students conducted experiments and created inventions this past week at Deyton Elementary during the first Camp Invention in Mitchell County, a nationally recognized, nonprofit summer enrichment program.
The camp is a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization that recognizes inventors and entrepreneurship. It is supported by the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
The camp brought 48 rising first- through sixth-graders together as they worked to create inventions from discarded home appliances and brainstormed ideas for new planets.
Three groups of campers rotated through four modules each day aimed at strengthening creative and inventive skills.
One module tasked campers with dissecting machines and using the parts inside to make new prototypes. Another had students building rockets from old, plastic soda bottles.
The camp’s curriculum was inspired by inductees of the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Mitchell County Schools AIG Director Dana Hollifield served as the camp’s director. Dan Hopson, Veronica Pitman and Sam Sirois, all teachers from Mitchell County Schools, were instructors.
Tuition for out-of-county students was $225 and $125 for students in the county. The decreased tuition for local students was made possible by Mitchell County Schools, which contributed $100 per local student enrolled.
“It’s a big deal,” Hollifield said of the school system’s contribution. “It lets kids participate that wouldn’t otherwise have been able to.”
The National Inventors Hall of Fame also offered scholarships.
“There are ways for them to get to camp if they want to come,” Hollifield said.
Hollifield said she was pleased to see the camp make its way to Mitchell County. The program has been in existence since 1990 and has had camps in every state.
“It’s probably an experience like they’ve never had before,” she said. “It gives them that chance to get hands-on experience. Hopefully it will create a spark in a child that will encourage them to follow their dreams later on. The main reason I wanted to do it is to make a difference in the children’s lives.”
Hollifield and the instructors worked with five counselors in training, four leadership interns, one camp parent and one parent volunteer.
Hollifield admitted the camp was physically exhausting.
“It’s active and hands-on and can be tiring, but it’s totally worth it,” Hollifield said. “It provides the students in our county with some kind of extra enrichment. We’ve had a lot of parents request that we do it again next year.”
Hopson, who helped students make air cannons, slingshots and plastic bottle rockets, said being an instructor in the camp was a unique experience.
Hopson is the STEM teacher at Harris Middle School. The STEM program, which is in its third year, offers hands-on lessons about science, technology, engineering and math.
“I’m honored to be a part of it,” Hopson said. “I’ve had as much fun as the kids have. I’m impressed with the simple products and materials we have and how we’re showing the laws of physics with them.”
Students ended the weeklong camp this past Friday by displaying some of their best inventions in the cafeteria for their parents.