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Inventions take shape
Camp launches creative thinking
3. STEM camp 1
Dawson County High School senior Sarah Tinsley helps campers launch rockets of their design during Camp Invention last week at Dawson County Middle School. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

Dawson County Middle School was home to a symposium of inventors and out-of-this-world creations last week.

The middle school played host to the county's first Camp Invention.

"We had over 106 elementary school students for our first camp, so I'd say it's been pretty successful," said Dawson County High School science teacher Laura Hendrix. "We have helpers from both the middle school and high school volunteering as our leaders and counselor-in-training."

Created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Camp Invention is the only nationally recognized summer program focused on creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention. It is part of the national Science, Technology, Electronics and Math, or STEM, initiative.The camp is partnered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Collegiate Inventors Competition.

"My counselor asked me if I would like to become a part of this camp and I said it would be great," said counselor-in-training Cierra Cunningham, 14. "We've worked with different labs and the kids have just invented the craziest things - we've made games, we've made rockets, whatever they've wanted to in the design studio."

The camp is open to children entering grades one through six and is free to schools and organizations that host the program nationwide.

Campers in Dawson County spent the week of June 22-26 inventing rockets, jet packs, carts and other inventions.

"I built a flying car in the design studio," said an excited Joe Reed, 7. "It lets me fly around wherever I want to go."

Student inventions, while mostly cardboard and old electronics at this age, are only limited by their imaginations.

"I've liked working in the design studio the most," Cunningham said. "It's really interesting to see how their brains work and the inventions they've come up with. The kids are awesome and their minds work in so many different ways."

While Hendrix has done camps in the past, this was the first one on such a large scale.

"I've worked with summer science camps in the past with [Laura] Hendrix back when it was just a small camp. She asked several kids in the class if they wanted to volunteer in a bigger one and I said sure," said Dawson County High School senior Sarah Tinsley. "It's been a lot of fun, but I'm also hoping it'll help me get some experience, working with people and for college."

Tinsley said that she found it interesting how the campers came together to work as a team to build fantastic inventions.

"I've really learned how to work with younger kids. I don't have any siblings, so this is definitely the most kids I've been around in a while," she said. "The kids had the basic knowledge of science already, but it was really interesting to see them build and become a team."