By JESSICA BAUER

LOG CABIN STAFF WRITER

Young students recently spent a week at St. Joseph Elementary School rifling through old cereal boxes and learning how to properly disassemble a television.

It may sound like an odd way to spend summer vacation, but these students were actually working toward becoming the next great inventors.

These kids were participating in the third annual Camp Invention, and, according to fifth-grade teacher Dianna Brown, they were doing more than simply playing with miscellaneous objects.

"They've taken apart appliances and used recyclables to make their own inventions," Brown said Friday. "We've had everything from a peanut butter and jelly sandwich maker to a spider killer and lots of the older kids have been working on inventions that will crack an egg into a pan."

Fifty-nine students ranging in age from 6 to 12 worked with each other to test, retest and rethink their inventions, tweaking various features and cheering when they proved successful.

Although Brown said the main idea behind Camp Invention is to get students interested in science, she said they are getting a boost in self-esteem, too.

"It's hands-on learning and letting students actually see that they can come up with great ideas," Brown said. "All of their ideas for inventions are accepted and that makes them feel good. Nobody here has one bad idea."

Fourth-grade teacher Angela Patterson said she loves seeing the new perspective students gain while working on their projects.

"When they get back to school, science is going to mean more to them than just sitting there watching a plant grow," Patterson said. "They've learned that science is actually getting your hands on something and doing something."

According to Brown, she sees Camp Invention as a way to take advantage of many lessons and activities that can't be done in a typical classroom setting.

"It's that stuff you really can't do in school everyday that lets them think outside the box and actually work outside the box," Brown said.

Outside of their main creations, students also participated in other activities that stretched their imaginations and tested their creativity.

"They've made superheroes this week and learned all about superhero powers, like how things fly and how gravity works," Brown said. "They've made comic books and they've made land sleds. They've learned about different boats and ships and solved trivia while looking for treasure."

Abbie Flake, a St. Joseph second-grader said she had a great time participating in the collection of events.

"I liked that we got to actually take apart electronics like phones and VCRs and a hard drive," Flake said. "But I also liked Land Sled Extreme, where we made a sled that can travel through an obstacle course, but we put a stuffed monkey on there to make sure that it's safe."

Second-grader Daelyn Phillips agreed with Flake on the land sled activity, mostly because it included water games --a great way to cool off on in the warm weather.

"You get to do an H2O throw and you need to get points to buy stuff for your sled so we just get soaking wet when we're doing that one," Phillips said.

According to Patterson, another important aspect of Camp Invention is that the students have to work together as a team, therefore improving social skills.

Many of the students agreed.

"I really like that we get to make new friends here and then sit by whoever we want to at lunch," Flake said.

Friday afternoon, parents of the young inventors were invited to the school to watch students test their prototypes and hear about their successes throughout the week.

(Staff writer Jessica Bauer can be reached by e-mail at jessica.bauer@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)