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'Kids love duct tape'
Students get hands-on with STEM learning at Camp Invention
Camp Invention pic 3
Second year counselor Emilie Hudgins works with a student at Dawson County Junior High School last week during Camp Invention. - photo by Amy French Dawson County News

"If there is one thing I have learned personally is that kids love duct tape," said Dawson County High School rising junior Jack Trammell.

Trammell has been a volunteer counselor, or leadership intern, for Camp Invention for three years.

"This is my third year here. I enjoy it," he said. "I enjoy watching the kids learn."

The annual summer enrichment program for kids entering grades kindergarten through sixth is a week-long day camp where students are challenged, and hopefully, inspired.

The camp ran from June 5-9 at Dawson County Junior High School under the direction of high school science teacher Laura Hendrix and math teacher Cindy Brookshire. Local high school students volunteer their time to through the week.

What began a few years back as Hendrix's summer science camp has now become part of a nationally-recognized program that gives students the opportunity to work on STEM skills: science, technology, engineering and mathematics through hands-on activities.

"Camp Invention is an excellent summer experience that presents children with fun and engaging challenges that emphasize STEM, creative problem solving, collaboration and entrepreneurship through innovation," said Chief Academic Officer Rick Brown.

Charter money has been provided to almost completely offset costs through scholarships and partial scholarships, according to Hendrix.

This year there were 158 campers participating along with 20 leadership interns and 12 counselors in training from the junior high. Eight teachers work with Brookshire and Hendrix as well as the custodial staff from the school who help keep things moving along.

"The whole goal is they are supposed to innovate and invent and become better leaders," Trammell said about the kids in the program.

The students are divided by age with kindergarten through third grades grouped together on one side of the building and fourth through sixth on the opposite.

Each day the groups rotate through four modules that encourage unique ideas.

In Operation Keep Out, campers have the chance to reverse engineer old devices and eventually create an alarm clock.

"It keeps their minds churning and that's the goal here," Trammell said.

In Duct Tape Billionaire students design duct tape products that they will then learn how to market and sell to "investors."

Have a Blast is a station that focuses on building high-tech bubble blasters and then compete as a team as they try to use physics to their advantage.

Finally in Mission Space Makers, teams are able to hatch eggs, sprout plants, grow crystal trees while they are on a mission to prepare a new planet for habitation.

Other high school students like Levi Baggett, Trammell and Emilie Hudgins are veterans of the camp.

"Levi, he is so good with the little kids," Hendrix said. "He is the guru. He just helps out everywhere. They are almost like assistants and I don't have to say anything."

"As far as volunteers and stuff, this is our biggest year," Brookshire said.

Etowah Water donated water for campers and staff throughout the week.