Famous for its own, nationally televised inventor, St. Michael Catholic School welcomed dozens of other aspiring engineers, scientists and talented tinkers to the building earlier this month via Camp Invention, a one-week crash course in creativity.
Led by camp director Heidi Gallus, the students from grades one through six represented schools from several surrounding communities and took on challenges such as creating a pinball machine, designing a SuperGo module vehicle and tinkering with household items like remotes and speakers to create other gizmos.
“It’s designed, of course, to be very hands on. And by the time the kids dig in and really start to explore how things work, and how different things can work together in a new way, they hardly realize they’re also learning through the process,” said Gallus, who also serves as a middle school teacher at StMCS. “It’s all about using your senses, and finding ways to use creativity and imagination in a new way.”
Camp Invention is supported by the National Inventors Hall of Fame as well as the United States Patent and Trademark Office. St. Michael Catholic School Middle Level student Jonathan Haller, of course, rose to fame via his appearance on Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” thanks to his invention – a hands-free device for your Smart Phone.
“The Haller family actually was able to hook up with the NIHF through that process, and that’s kind of what set the ball in motion for Camp Invention to come to our area. We’re really looking to grow it again next summer and make this a yearly thing for kids who want hands-on learning experiences away from the school year,” Gallus said.
Jonathan served as a counselor for the camp, as did other middle level students. The young students used skills to create the Super Go module, a small, motor powered vehicle that “zooms.” Each student in the younger grades, Gallus said, was able to follow the model and create their car, as well as add some custom ideas to it.
In St. Michael, the upper grades, students “upcycled” old electronics – former radios, CD players and such – to create “Pinbug,” a new pinball machine.
“There are lessons throughout the week where we focus on our senses, as well,” added Gallus. “We had 20 student this first year, and it’s one of more than 1,200 camps nationwide. So we’re looking forward to keeping it going.”
“It’s really a program that’s set to inspire and challenge our next generation of innovators through a nationally acclaimed, educational program,” said Michael Oister, Invent Now CEO. “Through the past 20 years we’ve had more than 900,000 children ignite a passion for creativity and invention.”