Students create solutions with inventions

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By Jesef Williams

Parts of the building looked like a science laboratory while another looked more like a distant planet.

At Discovery School in Lancaster last week, more than 100 students tried their hand at various stations that made up Camp Invention.

The program, which fostered creative thinking through hands-on activities, was geared to rising first- through sixth-graders.

It started Monday and ran through Friday.

One room in the building was turned into "Planet Zak," where students had crash landed and had five days to get off.

They had to construct a space craft, build shelter and find food.

The students worked on "space ships" that could literally lift off the ground. Their required materials included a paper plate, a paper cup and an index card.

On Wednesday afternoon, Gabriella Waldrop's third-grade team made a ship that flew. A balloon was its main source for elevation. But it didn't feature all the required materials.

"We really didn't think it was going to fly," Waldrop said. "If we don't take off, we'll be stuck here forever."

Through that activity, students learned about force and gravity.

Away from Planet Zak, another room at Discovery School looked like a mini junk yard.

Here, students engaged in an activity called "I Can Invent."

Students brought in old electronics like radios and took them apart. The goal was to use the parts to construct a machine that could burst a balloon with a sharp object.

Fifth-grader Garrett Gerdes took parts from a blender and tape recorder to construct a pulley-style machine. The plan was for the machine to mobilize a marble that would lead to the bursting of the balloon.

"I think this class has been the most interesting because we got to take machines apart," Gerdes said.

In another station, students worked on a four-wheel vehicle that could support an egg. In another, there was roller coaster building.

The activity, "Recess Remix," challenged students to invent their own games based on traditional ones such as tag.

"It's good to be able to see the children use their creativity and problem-solving skills in a fun environment," said camp director Lori Yarborough.

This was the first year that Discovery School sponsored the camp, created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation. Organizers hope to bring it back next year.

Contact reporter Jesef Williams at jwilliams@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1152