Rhempsey Wyman, 9, blows a fan perched atop a clubhouse that students made from recycled materials during Camp Invention, a science-based program for children, Friday at Iduma Elementary School in Killeen. Participants spent the week learning about molecules and atoms by using hands-on activities.

By Holly Wise
Killeen Daily Herald

Discarded bread machines, DVD players and recyclables were given new life at the hands of 93 children this week at Iduma Elementary School during Camp Invention.

“It might look like a bunch of duct tape and broken pieces but, to them, it’s the beginning of a masterpiece,” said camp director MJ Rorick, pointing out various pieces on a team’s Rube-Goldberg machine.

Using the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math program, camp participants spent the week learning about molecules and atoms and engaging in hands-on activities through the I Can Invent workshops.

With her team of 21 volunteers, five counselors and five certified teachers, Rorick was at the helm of the camp for the first time, but she’s no stranger to its operation.

“As a parent, I saw how much my child enjoyed it,” said the former camp volunteer. “She’d be so excited about what she was getting out of this.”

The hallways of the elementary school were bustling with activity as campers put finishing touches on their inventions to show off to their families during the camp’s finale — the inventors’ showcase.

For Tanner, taking apart a computer was the best part of the camp, and Jacqui enjoyed building clubhouses.

Tanner and Jacqui were part of a team of six who created the “Thingy Mogig,” a conglomeration of cardboard and duct tape that formed a series of ramps. While one camper made minor adjustments to the ramp’s entrance, another dropped a bouncy ball down the cardboard slide. The ball hit a cardboard ramp, bounced back in the opposite direction and rolled back down the tube knocking over a stick, which released a “winner” banner.

Part of the camp’s purpose was for participants to learn “what it’s like to work as a team and compromise and get ideas,” Rorick said.

In a pre-k classroom down the hall, 20 campers, two counselors and one instructor made bouncy balls.

“(Science) is fun,” Jordan said. “I especially like the experiments.”

A three-year camp veteran, Jordan, 9, said she keeps coming back because “it’s funner and funner each year.”

Julie Tramp, the camp’s assistant director and former director, said she likes the camp because it challenges children to think instead of giving an answer.

“What I like is it gives kids who might not shine in regular school a chance to shine,” she said.

Counselor J’Nissia, 15, said she volunteered at the camp because she likes volunteering and doing things for other people.

“I didn’t have anything else to do,” she said. “Why not have fun?”