Tonawanda News — TOWN OF TONAWANDA — Young inventors showed off their battery-powered cars, pinball machines and bionic gadgets to their families on Friday afternoon after a weeklong camp on innovation and entrepreneurship.
The program, which was held at St. Amelia School, is part of Camp Invention, the only nationally recognized elementary enrichment program that is backed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame. The non-profit provides the jam-packed curriculum, which is based on state and national education standards.
“It’s all about hands-on learning,” Kathy Adymy, the camp’s director and a teacher at St. Amelia, said. “The kids learn 21st century skills, like critical thinking and analysis, and STEM (science, math, engineering and technology) is incorporated, too.”
Twenty-five youth, who are entering grades one through six, rotated through four units with two teachers as part of this year’s camp — called Morphed! The four different modules each offered a different look at creativity and design.
As part of the “I Can Event: Pinbug” module, children brought in recycled items like strawberry cartons and old VCRs and clocks and took those items apart themselves using tools. In teams, the children then built pinball machines inspired by bugs.
“They built them using real bolts and nuts, and they work. We figured out a way to keep score and had a tournament today. It really was cool,” camp teacher Laura Curcio said.
The children also worked in teams to build vehicles that can operate in the land, water and air and tested them out on ramps and obstacles, which were built with other recycled items like cereal boxes.
“Every time I walked in the room, I was amazed by what the kids had created,” Adymy said.
The students also explored the five senses as part of the “Amplified” module, a section that concentrated on robotics and research. The kids came up with invention ideas that could help improve peoples’ lives — like electronic wheelchairs — as well as ideas for innovations that combine two already existing products — like an iPad and a phone.