New BRPS program promotes innovation

Co-director Emily Nichols works with students, Noah Wesche (left) and Brysen Easler (right). They were tasked with building a tunnel out of up-cycled materials. (Pioneer photo/ Catherine Sweeney)

BIG RAPIDS — On Tuesday, Aug. 13, students gathered at Big Rapids Middle School to work on their science and math skills at Camp Invention, a national program new to the area.

The four-day camp, which began Monday, Aug. 12, is being held in partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame and promotes innovation for kids in kindergarten to sixth grade.

“If you don’t start them this early, it’s intimidating for them to get into science and math fields,” Emily Nichols, co-director of the program, said.

Each day, students at the camp spend their time going through different modules that have them build their own inventions, while developing interests in math and science fields, such as archaeology, engineering, marine biology and more.

For Tuesday’s lesson, Nichols, along with co-director Kara Schafer, split the kids into teams to make their own bridges and tunnels out of up-cycled, or reused, materials that they brought in.

“The curriculum has them go through different areas so kids can find out what they’re interested in,” Nichols said. “If a kid doesn’t particularly like one of the modules, then they don’t have to focus on it all day.”

Kids also spend their day learning about major inventors as a way to inspire and empower them to get into a science and math field when they’re older.

Camp Invention began in 1990 and now exists at 28 different locations.

While new to Big Rapids Public Schools, Nichols said she hopes to see the camp return next summer.

“Having the program in Big Rapids has been really great so far,” Nichols said. “It’s something different and fun that gets kids excited about learning.”

Students Jillian Mischler (left) and Jeanna Roof (right) work together to complete their module. Students rotate modules everyday so they are always learning something new. (Pioneer photo/ Catherine Sweeney)

Students gather to learn about what they will be working on for the day. Camp Invention kids are lead by volunteer high school students. (Pioneer photo/ Catherine Sweeney)

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Posted by Catherine Sweeney

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