Creativity stems from summer program

Darin Moriki
Posted 6/21/12

Sonja Gill was amazed at the projects her son Dakota brought home from Camp Invention last year, so she signed him up for a second year as soon as …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Don't have an ID?

Print subscribers

If you're a print subscriber, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one.


Click here to see your options for becoming a subscriber.

If you made a voluntary contribution in 2022-2023 of $50 or more, but do not yet have an online account, click here to create one at no additional charge. VIP Digital Access includes access to all websites and online content.

Our print publications are advertiser supported. For those wishing to access our content online, we have implemented a small charge so we may continue to provide our valued readers and community with unique, high quality local content. Thank you for supporting your local newspaper.

Creativity stems from summer program


Sonja Gill was amazed at the projects her son Dakota brought home from Camp Invention last year, so she signed him up for a second year as soon as registration opened.

“I can never get anything into the recycling bin anymore, because he just wants to take it and say, `I can use that,’” Gill said as she joked with a parent who brought her child to Camp Invention for the first time this year. “They’ll have this ongoing project and then they’ll gather items as the day goes on.”

For nearly a week starting on June 4, Dakota Gill, a second-grader at Stargate Schools, and nearly 166 first- through sixth-graders in Adams 12 Five Star Schools gathered at Northglenn’s Malley Drive Elementary School to participate in this year’s program.

Camp Invention is a nationally-recognized program offered in more than 1,200 locations in 49 states. It teaches students how to apply science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) concepts to solve everyday tasks.

Camp director Jeannine Tennant said she introduced Camp Invention to the school district last year because she recognized a need to carry STEM concepts outside the classroom.

“I wouldn’t do any camp, but I wanted to do this one because there’s a lot of active, engaging, hands-on learning going on here,” Tennant said. “Once I saw what the kids were walking away with and learning from camp, I realized it was more than what they would have taken away from school sometimes.”

During the five-day program, she said, campers attended modules that taught them how to solve real-world problems by creating inventions from recycled materials they were given. From making balloon-bursting machines that used pulleys and ramps to learning how to use electricity and magnetism, she said the children embraced each challenge and created innovative solutions with a fervor that inspired many of the staff members.

“It’s phenomenal how kids fall in love with pieces of things — not even complete things — and turn them into something special,” Sonja Gill said. “It just keeps their mind moving, which is a beautiful thing for kid.”

Gill is so impressed with the camp that she became a volunteer this year.

Tennant said the accomplishments were particularly special for the nearly 90 economically disadvantaged students who were invited to participate in the program. Tennant said nearly half of these students are currently homeless and were sponsored though the U.S. Department of Education’s Title I funds.

“It’s a dream come true to come here every day and build things,” Bradley Willard, a 9-year-old STEM School third-grader, said as he showed his mother his balloon-popping machine. “I feel like an engineer.”

Gill said the camp also reinforces essential life lessons, such as perseverance, teamwork and cooperation, which will continually benefit students as they grow older.

“Of course kids are excited, and they remember the camp cheers and songs, but the memories they create can really help them the next time they’re faced with a problem,” she said. “There’s a different sense of pride in being handed a worksheet and filling it out, and assembling oral ideas from supplies.”

Although many of the camp volunteers, including college and high school students, were not paid for their work, Tennant said they enjoyed learning with the campers.

“No matter what kind of kid they are, they all learn something, and that’s worth it for me,” Tennant said. “I love it. I’ve been teaching for 23 years, and I think this is where it’s at.”


Our Papers

Ad blocker detected

We have noticed you are using an ad blocking plugin in your browser.

The revenue we receive from our advertisers helps make this site possible. We request you whitelist our site.