Bexley elementary school students spent last week learning about comic books, Vikings and how those topics can be applied to science when they attended Camp Invention at Maryland Elementary School.

Bexley elementary school students spent last week learning about comic books, Vikings and how those topics can be applied to science when they attended Camp Invention at Maryland Elementary School.

Thirty-eight campers in grades one through six attended the camp as part of the school district's Summer Academy.

Camp Invention is a program of Invent Now Kids Inc., a subsidiary of the National Inventors Hall of Fame Foundation.

Camp co-director Rachel Niswander said in their units on Vikings, campers investigated how the Vikings crossed the ocean and other bodies of water.

Participants were asked to create a boat, thus learning the kind of materials it took the Vikings to make their boats float, she said.

They also constructed shelters as part of the unit on Vikings, Niswander said.

"They were given a certain amount of materials," she said. "They used those materials to make a shelter that would have five people be able to stay under the shelter."

The activity promoted teamwork, collaboration and brainstorming, Niswander said.

For their unit on complicated machines, younger campers got to take apart a machine and invent something new. The participants brought in something from home and disassembled it to create a fantasy invention.

"It doesn't really have to work by the end of the week," Niswander said.

The task for students in grades four through six was to come up with an invention using materials from two simple machines. A golf ball traveled through the machine with the ultimate goal of cracking an egg at the finish line.

"There was a lot of trial and error," Niswander said.

In comic book science, students talked a lot about speed, morphing and superhero powers. Participants came up with an idea for their superhero and created a claymation of their superhero, Niswander said.

Each day students added a new vocabulary word and added it to a comic strip they created. At the end of camp they had a prototype for their superhero and a comic strip.

Campers also created a parachute. Because superheroes can fly, campers needed to study what might slow down or stop their superhero. They came up with different ideas of how their parachute would stay in motion.

Students put together a parachute out of different materials and had to determine how much weight their parachute could hold or how long the strings should be.

Co-director Lisa Viney worked with students to create land sleds. Each day students participated in water activities to earn points.

"Basically they were throwing water balloons at each other," Viney said. "They had to earn points, work as a team."

Students were allowed to make shields to protect themselves from water. The team that stayed the driest earned the most points to buy materials for their sleds.

Younger participants built a land sled for a stuffed animal while older students created a sled for a teammate. The sleds, made out of cardboard boxes, laundry baskets and skateboards, were taken through an obstacle course at the end of camp.

Viney said Camp Invention gives students an opportunity to improve teamwork and strategizing skills. Students also learned trial and error and perseverance.

"I ask them to give ideas and they give me ideas I never thought of," she said.

tstubbs@thisweeknews.com