Gateway camp encourages kids to solve real-world problems
More than a dozen elementary-aged children circled a kiddie pool at Gateway High School on a recent rainy summer day to blow boats “across the ocean.”
The boats were invented and built by the children out of recycled materials like Styrofoam, cardboard, paper and tape during Camp Invention, a week-long day camp which was held at the high school from July 8 to 12.
“Mine went the fastest!” Ethan proclaimed to his peers. “Even with the cargo.”
The “cargo” was five metal washers that a volunteer placed atop his paper-and-Styrofoam boat. His boat sailed across the water as other campers created wind with paper fans.
Jim Pottinger, Gateway’s gifted program coordinator, has led Camp Invention for five years after is experienced a hiatus for years.
“It’s been going great ever since,” he said. “Each year, kids are given different engineering problems and they’re asked to come up with a solution for it.”
The 2019 program, dubbed “Supercharged!” included activities that focused on creating solutions to real-world problems and building critical skills by rotating through several hands-on teaching modules.
Camp Invention is offered to kindergarten-through-sixth-grade students through the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
Each of the three groups of 49 total campers focused on solving issues with robots, farm technology, water technology and innovation. Campers rebuilt a robot, searched for hidden fossils, coded and programmed a robot, worked on ways to turn a polluted wasteland into a fruitful farm and successful business, and designed superhero gadgets to explore engineering and fabrication.
Zahara Myers, 11, of Monroeville said she has been attending the camp for five years and this year marks her last as a camper. She said she’ll miss the activities like designing a robot to make its way through obstacles as quickly as possible.
“There was an obstacle course and a ring of fire,” she said, fidgeting with her remote-controlled robot. The ring of fire was tinsel. Myers said her robot did “OK.”
Cody Page, 11, of Plum said his robot, which was decorated elaborately with cardboard and eyes, had a harder time getting through the obstacles.
“It had trouble turning because I had more weight on it,” he said.
Dillon Carr is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Dillon at 412-871-2325, [email protected] or via Twitter .