Students stepped into a world of innovation and invention in Reynoldsburg as Camp Invention came to Summit Road STEM Elementary School.

Held June 18-22, the day camp created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame featured four modules, said camp director and former Summit Road administrator Heidi Leeds.

"Last year was our first year for Camp Invention at Summit, and I wanted to bring it to the school because everything about it is STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) and inquiry-based learning," she said. "I was happy we could offer it here a second year."

She said 87 students in grades K-6 worked on four activities or modules all week -- Mod, My Mini Mansion; Robotic Pet Vet; Optibot and Stick To It.

The students worked with six Reynoldsburg teachers, five from Summit Road and one from Slate Ridge Elementary School, as well as several leadership interns who were volunteers from Reynoldsburg high schools and local colleges.

Leeds said the students began each day at the base camp "exploration station" set up in the cafeteria, where they gathered recyclable materials, such as cardboard boxes, paper and plastic bottles, then moved to different classrooms in the school to work on the modules.

In the Robotic Pet Vet room, students received a robotic dog they immediately took apart, comparing the dog's inner mechanics to the physiology of a real dog.

"They extract robotic bone marrow to figure out red and white blood cells and even analyze urine samples to learn about real dog anatomy," Leeds said.

Besides diagnosing puppy problems, the students built dog parks and learned about the circuits and sensors that made the robotic dogs move and bark.

In the Optibot module, students were given a small, robotic vehicle that could sense changes in light and follow tracks drawn on poster-size white paper. They discovered how sensors are used in autonomous vehicles, including impact sensors, using a small crash test dummy.

Nathan Evans, a fourth-grade teacher from Slate Ridge, said the camp gave students a hands-on chance to explore science.

"They had a chance to explore and create with resources they may not normally get to use," he said. "The camp also provided me with new ideas to use in my own classrooms.

"It was really exciting to see students go from not quite understanding the ideas, to discovery, fascination and being able to apply the concepts."

Fifth-grade student Gen-evieve Jones was a "counselor in training" or CIT, participating in the modules while also helping younger students.

"You could draw any track for the bots to follow, but it had to have thick lines, with no sharp turns," she said. "It was fun to build stuff for the optibot to go around."

In Mod, My Mini Mansion, students built "smart homes" by making and stacking posterboard cubes and then filled the homes with simulated "smart devices" said teacher Jen Nairn, who teaches second-graders at Summit.

"After building the mansions, we added renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, and discussed what makes a device smart," she said. "It was fun to see what they came up with, like devices that gathered clothes as well as cleaned them on laundry day."

Eighth-grader Mallory Corcoran said she enjoyed helping with the camp.

"I liked interacting with the kids and seeing all their great inventions," she said.

In the Stick To It module, students learned about real inventors and what it's like to be a modern physicist, engineer or entrepreneur. They also received "free invention" time.

"The students got a lot more freedom to invent, using their imagination and a variety of recyclable materials," Leeds said.

Learn more about the National Inventors Hall of Fame and Camp Invention at www.campinvention.org.

editorial@thisweeknews.com

@PamelaThisWeek