By Tim Jagielo

Lake Fenton — Marissa Conley, 9, was very excited that the boat she made could hold more than 200 small metal washers before sinking to the bottom of the blue kiddy pool outside the classroom.

She had rigged a small aluminum baking pan with pipe cleaners. This excitement and willingness to solve problems is what Camp Invention: Supercharged is all about.

Marissa and 105 other area children from kindergarten to sixth grade participated in Camp Invention: Supercharged, from July 29 to Aug. 2.

The camp was hosted by Lake Fenton Community Schools (LFCS) at Lake Fenton High School. The curriculum, program and materials were through the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

Joseph Rohen is director of the camp, as well as a first grade teacher at Lake Fenton’s West Shore Elementary School. There were four teachers, one per section, through which the children rotated. Rohen said teachers were from LFCS, Davison and Linden.

The four sections were “Deep Sea Mystery,” “DIY Orbots,” “Farm tech,” and “Innovation Force.” Each section had an interesting back story and general goal.

Marissa was participating in Deep Sea Mystery when she built her boat. Children created a variety of designs and loading them with washers is how they were tested.

Participants learned about motors, gears, circuit boards and radio frequencies through their small orange radio-controlled DIY Orbots. These robots were used for a variety of tasks throughout the week.

They put their business and problem-solving hats on for Farm tech, where they managed their own farm and learned the basics of running a business along with coding and DNA.

Innovation force teaches campers about intellectual property law in the U.S., through a scenario where they fight a plagiarizing villain and learn about intellectual property laws.

“There’s a lot of building and creating throughout the week,” Rohen said. The goal of the program is to engage the students creatively, and learn that failure is not the end of the world. “We want them feeling confident that they can learn through creativity,” he said.

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