Camp Invention gets kids excited about science

By: Autumn Matz, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Kids became scientists and used their imagination to invent chocolate dispensers, robots and egg-shooters at Camp Invention in Rocklin recently.
“I invented a chocolate dispenser out of an old computer,” said camp participant Jake Young. “I made it because I like chocolate.”
Older participants described their experience building a working machine.
“We made a pipe that a magnet rolls down, lands on a teeter-totter and shoots an egg into a pan,” said Jared Doherty of the invention he created with Luke Zianno.
The Camp Invention program was held last week at Valley View Elementary School for its sixth year in Rocklin.
The program is offered as a weeklong camp to children entering first-through sixth-grade and builds off of the idea that children are more excited to learn while having fun at the same time.
“We had five different modules that the kids rotated through throughout the day, so they hit every module, everyday,” said Camp Invention Co-director Meg Young.
This year the camp grew to include its highest number of participants so far.
“There are 80 (children) this year,” said Camp Invention Co-director Tammy Zianno.
During the camp, children learned about the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math.
“Schools aren’t able to teach as much science due to time and financial restrictions,” Young said.
Another reason for the concentration on these subjects is the fact that the kids seem to have an interest in them.
“There is a thirst (by the children) out there for it,” Zianno said.
Participants at this year’s camp learned about environmental and “green” sciences, law of physics and structural design techniques.
The curriculum for these four target areas is specially designed by teachers to meet state and national standards and is taught through a variety of activities. Some of the activities included a superhero module where kids did numerous activities, including running in intervals. There was also a Viking boat module, where children built a Viking boat out of recyclable materials.
One of the things participants seemed to enjoy the most were the water activities.
“Everyday (they) enjoy something different,” Young said. “I would say water science (is their favorite). They are working on levers and weights.”
On top of these activities, two staples of the Camp Invention program returned to Rocklin. The I Can Invent: Fantasy Inventions and Complicated Machines II module, as well as the Recess Remix module was utilized to help give children a memorable learning experience.
During the I Can Invent module, participants were divided by age groups and were given separate activities to complete. Younger children — first-graders through third-graders — developed an invention to help them solve a problem they are personally dealing with. Older children — fourth-graders through sixth-graders — were given the mission to build a working machine that would break a “rotten egg” in a frying pan.
The camp concluded with an assembly, during which the children had the opportunity to showcase what they had been doing all week at the camp.

For more photos: Camp Invention draws kid scientists

Autumn Matz can be reached at