The fifth year of Camp Invention at Sauk Trail, which was held July 9-13, was more popular than ever.
The camp had 240 students, Camp Invention director and Sauk Trail teacher Kristin Pavelec said. The previous record was 215, which was set in 2017. There were 166 campers in 2016.
Visit the District Facebook page to see more photos from this year's camp.
The camp included students entering first through sixth grade. There was also 22 counselors-in-training -- who are middle school students going into grades 7-9 -- 20 leadership interns that included sophomores in high school through college, 10 instructors and two assistant directors. Pavelec said nearly 75 percent of her staff returned from a year ago.
"That makes a huge difference on the success of our camp and how we are able to move forward and get better each year,'' she said.
Camp lasted more than six hours each day. Students rotated to five modules daily and visited a different teacher each time. Each module lasted one hour. The modules included Optiobot, Robotic Pet Vet, Stick to It, Mod ... My Mini Mansion and Games. Visit the Camp Invention website to learn more about the 2018 programs.
"One of my real highlights this year is that we stretched students in many science fields,'' Pavelec said. "For the first time, biology really came into play as students worked as veterinarians to diagnose symptoms of a dog (looked at bone marrow, blood cells, and even did a urine analysis. They also looked at the various systems: muscular, skeletal, and circulatory.''
Pavelec noted the Camp Invention site at Sauk Trail along with one in Waunakee are the two largest ones in Wisconsin. She also noted Waunakee is able to offer a reduced cost because their program is part of summer school, which MCPASD doesn't offer.
"The program really allows students at all elementary levels to really grow their skills as inventors to try and then try again,'' she said "We have an amazing staff that works so well with kids to make sure each child really feels a part of the process. Plus, Camp Invention partners with the National Inventors Hall of Fame as an accredited program that works to really highlight real inventors. Campers learn that products they use and see every day had to start from an idea. It challenges them to be creative and learn from people who have truly been successful in their field.''
Pavelec and her staff were excited and tired after camp ended.
"We leftt feeling exhausted but exhilarated,'' she said. "There were so many great moments.''
Pavelec noted at the end of the week students shared underwater sea caves to travel through that they built, and popping viruses that were made of bubble wrap in a container full of red blood cells that were made of orbibeads. In addition, students looked at different sources of energy and worked to put those into action with wind turbines, solar panels and rain barrels.
"I love when the children are excited to show me all that they have learned,'' Pavelec said.
Did Pavelecu ever imagine the camp going to this level when it started five years ago?
"I honestly am surprised but I probably shouldn't be,'' she said. "Camp Invention is a great program and Middleton is a place that truly supports education. Parents are looking for great opportunities to enhance their child's education, and we have found a perfect fit.''
Camp Invention was created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, a leading non-profit organization of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). To learn more, please visit the Camp Invention website.