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Floats your boat: Camp Invention brings problem-solving, creativity to DMS

Twenty-seven students, grades kindergarten through fifth, are participating in Camp Invention at Dickinson Middle School this week to engage them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Kids go through four different modules each day...

Twenty-seven students, grades kindergarten through fifth, are participating in Camp Invention at Dickinson Middle School this week to engage them in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Kids go through four different modules each day that incorporate hands-on activities involving creativity, teamwork and problem-solving skills.

On Wednesday, students made boats out of various recycled materials including foam plates, blocks of wood, construction paper, glue, duct tape and boxes. When they were satisfied with their boat, they put it on the water in a small kiddie pool to see if it would float. If their boat didn't float, or if it took on water, they had to figure out a way to fix it.

Sarah Fox, the director of the Dickinson Camp Invention site, also facilitates activities for one of the classes, including the boat activity.

"They use a lot of growth-mindset where they have to fix something that doesn't work," she said. "They use a lot of recycled materials to create prototypes of inventions. There is not a lot of emphasis on making a working device, rather the students are working on fostering creative thinking and problem-solving."

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Kids Aaden Asensio, 8, and his partner Thomas McAvoy, 7, built their boat of blocks with a foam base. The foam was collecting water through the gap between the wood and the foam, so they decided to glue wood blocks to the sides of the boat to close the gap. They included a lifeboat in the bottom of the ship, in case of a weather-related accident, and even an anchor.

The found a ball to use as an anchor. Aaden suggested the ball was too light to sink, and his partner Thomas said there was a hole in the ball that would collect water, making it heavier.

They were proud of their boat, showing it to their classmates and agreeing upon who would take it home when the class was over.

In another class Wednesday, students were given a problem: A farmer was tired of throwing bales of hay to feed his cows. They were to create a catapult to launch bales of hay (represented by blocks) at the cows (represented by a photo).

"It's really to get them excited about creating things and to get them thinking outside of the box. Adults may see a box, but kids - for example, I just had a kid make a spaceship out of a box. We really focus on that inventive thinking. The kids are given a problem and (they figure out) how can I solve that problem using the things around me ... Kids are going into a challenge, and they're not giving up," Fox said.

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