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Week-long camp grows in popularity


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Students will turn cardboard and wires into a pinball machine this summer as they explore how science lessons can come alive.

Youngsters in Franklin will have the chance to attend a week-long camp that will give them a more in-depth look at science than their teachers can accomplish in the classroom.

Camp Invention, a national science camp, is coming to Needham Elementary School.

For years, the camp has been a summer staple at Westwood Elementary School in Greenwood. Sugar Grove Elementary School in Center Grove also will host a camp this year.

More and more students attend Greenwood’s camp each year, and students from other districts go to the camp to get a peek at science.

The camp is growing, and educators are touting the hands-on approach to science that schools don’t necessarily have time to offer as the reason.

Younger elementary school grades focus on math and reading with the expectation that subjects such as science will be easier once other skills are mastered, Needham guidance counselor Stephanie Deeter said.

Camp Invention gives younger students a full week to concentrate on science, she said.

“This provides an opportunity for kids to get their hands on science,” Deeter said. “It’s taking that 30 minutes of science that they get each day and turning it into a whole day.”

Students will break down household items and recycled goods, such as cardboard, and make it into something new.

This year, students will tear apart electronics to make a bug-themed pinball machine.

Lessons that students get at Camp Invention are hard to learn elsewhere, Westwood Elementary School fifth-grade teacher Teresa Gross said.

Educators have pushed STEM education, which focuses on science and technology for students.

Camp Invention offers a way for that education to continue during the summer, Gross said.

“I think there has been so much publicity on STEM education,” she said. “There is a definite need for it, and you can slide it in during the summer.”

The concentration on science and creativity is why the camp is expanding across the county, educators said.

Westwood Elementary School will host their eighth camp this summer. Sugar Grove Elementary is hosting one this summer.

Other schools can sign up for the curriculum themselves. This summer, local students can attend a Camp Invention at half of the public school districts in the county.

Franklin wanted to give kids another way to learn over the shortened summer break, Deeter said.

Students can play in little league or participate in summer reading program at the library. Camp Invention offers another opportunity for students, she said.

“The purpose it to really promote creative,” Deeter said. “We have sports and things like that (during the summer), but kids need an outlet for their creativity.”

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