Delaware News

Camp Invention proves STEM, creativity go hand in hand

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Delaware students this summer learned that creativity isn't just for art class.

Earlier this summer, the Delaware City School District offered a one-week summer program called Camp Invention.

The program was developed in 1990 and guided by inductees into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

It's designed to build on the science, technology, engineering and mathematics platform, or STEM.

Camp Invention is put on by an external company, but the district provided a few high school students as "camp counselors" and some teachers, including gifted intervention specialist Jill Wade.

Thirty-four gifted students attended the camp, said Director of Student Services Jake Tawney, and he said he hopes enrollment will grow next year.

"We are committed to doing this camp again because it was a smashing success," he said. "Our goal will be to get the word out better and try to get more kids signed up."

The camp included slightly more boys than girls, but Tawney said it was still a good representation of both sexes.

The program aims to make sure the camp is not only academically challenging, but also engaging for students.

"It's very hands-on," Tawney said. "They are exercising their math skills and their creativity skills through the activities they participate in. It's not just a repeat of what they do in the class -- it's new stuff."

One activity included deconstructing old VCRs and TVs and seeing how they work.

"One of their favorite parts was taking things apart and seeing what's on the inside," Tawney said.

Students also constructed a pinball machine and built cars to race against each other in a "good-spirited competition," he said.

"Part of what they learned was parts of mechanical engineering, which is not part of the curriculum for most of these students," he said. "We're exposing them to new subjects."

Tawney said the week brought out the students' "spirit of invention" and showed them the value of thinking outside the box.

"We have been taught that creativity comes in art and that science uses a different part of the brain, but science really has a lot of creativity and innovation," he said.

Tawney said parents were pleased with the program and that it was the kind of the thing they wanted for their children.

"I couldn't be happier or more pleased with this program," he said. "I believe it speaks for itself. It's the type of program we want to be offering, and it's a step in the right direction for our district."

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