QUEENSBURY — A summer camp aimed at fostering creativity and problem-solving skills made its return to William H. Barton Intermediate School this year, giving more than 60 area students the chance to showcase their ingenuity.
Camp Invention, a week-long program designed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame and now in its sixth year at Queensbury, is open to students from rising kindergartners to sixth-graders.
Niki Doak, serving her fourth year as director, said the camp grows each year and the experience keeps kids coming back.
“Each year, it seems to get a little bit bigger,” Doak said. “My goal is 100 kids because I think if more kids were exposed to this they would love it. We have so many returning kids.”
Many of the campers come from Queensbury, but there were students from Saratoga, Hadley, Newcomb and other areas participating in this year’s program.
During the week, the kids are broken into four groups, based on age, and participate in four different projects. This year’s projects include DIY Orbot, Farmtech, Innovation Force and Deep Sea Mystery.
One of the activities in Deep Sea Mystery was for the students to construct their own boats out of materials such as Styrofoam and cardboard that would pass the test of staying afloat in a kiddie pool.
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Queensbury Elementary student Natalie Ryerson had the most success with the challenge, getting her boat to stay up with what ended up being a simple but unorthodox strategy for the class.
“I knew if I used a big sheet of foam I could get lots of stuff on it because it’s very light,” Ryerson said.
Another Queensbury student, Alexandru Mailat, said his attempt went more like the Titanic.
Doak said the camp helps develop students’ creativity and keeps them engaged from start to finish because of the freedom to explore new ideas, a luxury not always available in a normal classroom when there’s so much pressure for students to get high marks on standardized tests.
“I think it really helps them to learn to work cooperatively and it helps them think outside the box,” Doak said. “This is something they may not get as much of in their regular classroom, so you’re seeing them work and think differently.”
The other camp staffers, including some teachers, teaching aides and substitute teachers, agreed the more laid-back environment gives the kids more freedom to try new things.
“So much of their time is focused toward preparing them for the state test, a lot of time they don’t get the opportunity to do the old fun stuff,” Dan Snowball, a fifth-grade math teacher in Queensbury, said.