Camp sets imagination in motion

By: Lauren Gibbs, The Placer Herald
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Sixth-grader Maddie Woodward can tell you all about aqueducts. She’ll tell you that they were first used by the Romans to channel water because some areas were dryer than others. She’ll also tell you that the water was used for drinking and bathing. Woodward is one of approximately 80 students who are participating in Camp Invention at Valley View Elementary School this week where it’s a hands-on approach to learning. “It’s a lot of fun. It’s really creative,” said Woodward, who has attended the camp four years now. Using an empty Huggies diapers box, a water bottle and duct tape, Woodward and her team were creating a miniature, yet reliable, version of an aqueduct. In the module, the students also learned the value of money through their bartering system. Teams were able to purchase or rent supplies such as rulers, scissors and duct tape. A successful aqueduct could earn a team $500, a leak could result in a $50 reduction and a semi-successful aqueduct could earn hundreds of dollars. Across campus, other students were taking household items and transforming them into something else. With safety goggles on and screwdrivers in hand, third-graders Ethan Arguedas and Jake Capulong tore apart a CD player they planned to turn into a robot. Meg Young, who co-directs Camp Invention in Rocklin with Tammy Zianno, said students bring in items like printers, speakers, old cell phones, curling irons and VCRs. “They really recreate it into something else,” Young said. “It doesn’t feel like learning.” Camp Invention began in 1990 to give kids a safe outlet to experiment and create. Young and Zianno both have kids who have attended the camp for years and know first-hand the benefits parents see from the camp. “I like how my child is allowed and encouraged to think outside the box,” Young said. “They don’t realize they’re learning math. It just doesn’t feel textbook.” At Zianno’s household, camp doesn’t stop on the last day. “I like that it doesn’t end on Friday,” she said. Students are divided into groups by grade levels and split their time between four different modules every day for a week. In one module, students create avatars and a world for their avatar. In another module, students learn about math through soap bubbles. “It doesn’t feel like learning,” Young said. “It’s as good as going to Disneyland for these kids.” For more information on Camp Invention, go to or call (800) 968-4332.