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Camp Invention comes to Eastwood

Where can household items become million-dollar machines? And where can an old tube become the design for the next great roller-coaster?

Anything and everything like that happened at Eastwood Elementary last week, where teachers, volunteers and students entering Grades 1-6 participated in Camp Invention, a camp that fosters creativity, teamwork and intventive thinking.

Camp Invention is conducted and created by the National Inventors' Hall of Fame, and was started back in 1990. It receives funding and support from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. This is the first Camp Invention held in North Dakota, and Camp head Barb Stoflet was pleased with the results.

"It's been very exciting," Stoflet, a North Dakota native who now lives and works in the Twin Cities area, said. "I really wanted to bring Camp Invention to my home, and I think the reception has just been phenomenal."

Stoflet worked with Harwood teacher Angie Howard, a music instructor who heard about the possibilities tied into Camp Invention, to bring the week-long event to Eastwood. Howard said participation came from beyond West Fargo students and parents, as kids from Fargo, Wahpeton and other areas came to the Camp.

"I think the creative thinking we've seen is just amazing" she said. "Hopefully, this is something we can get going across the state. I think the kids just love it."

Done at stations like Take-A-Part and I Can Invent, the "inventions," created from broken up items like old VCRs and more, ranged from "Sister Eliminators" (which were themselves eliminated by instructors who told the inventors to go back to the proverbial drawing board) to music machines that would rival the traditional stereo system.

Other stations included Imagination Point, Spills and Chills and Problem Solving on Planet Zack.

The curriculum asks campers to work in teams at some stations, while they work alone at others. Stoflet said the team working element is something that really excites teachers.

"It's an ingredient that doesn't get developed as much during regular class time," she said. "But it's not all teams. There's a good balance of individual achievement in there."

Principal Jerry Barnum of Harwood and Horace said the 113 students in the camp were "incredibly creative."

"The group work, collaborative skills and the scientific principles they've shown are amazing," Barnum said. "And, they're having so much fun. They're loving it."