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Camp Invention instructor Laura Viverette pours water into robotic aquariums created by students this week during the camp, designed to encourage students in science, technology, engineering, art and math. It was held at Morehead City Elementary School. (Cheryl Burke photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — From glow-in-the-dark volcanoes to aquariums filled with robotic creatures, more than 30 elementary and rising middle school students were immersed in science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) this week during Camp Invention at Morehead City Elementary School.

It’s the first time in three years since the camp has been held due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and camp director Kari Willis, also a science teacher at East Carteret High School, said it was great to see students back.

“It feels great to have the kids back and using their minds and learning to create,” she said Thursday.

Camp Invention, held Monday through Thursday, is designed to instill a love for science, technology, engineering, art and math in kindergarten through sixth-grade students.

This is the 17th year that the county school system, in partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame, has offered the camp. It included four stations incorporating hands-on STEAM activities centered around the theme, “Explore.”

There was plenty of exploration going on Thursday as children were involved in multiple science projects as they rotated among four stations.

The first station, Robotic Aquatics, involved children exploring an array of innovations that work on and under water. They created their own aquariums with some unique robotic creatures, including a wiggly fish and jelly fish.

A second station, Spacecation, had children exploring planets and Jupiter’s ice moon, Europa. The imaginary travelers trekked near an erupting ice volcano, which they created, and studied glow-in-the-dark geology. 

A third station, The Attic, had students study how artists and innovators use computers and robots to create. Campers explored geometric art and created their own spin machine.

The fourth station, Marble Arcade, turned students into gamers as they created twists and turns for their marble arcades. The young inventors explored the power of pushes and pulls as they took on challenges to find ways to go over, under and through their invention.

Students were also encouraged to create their own inventions and share their creations with fellow campers. Morehead City Elementary School fourth-grader, Alfie Hogwood, who is interested in marine biology, created a machine to study sharks.

“It’s a shark scanner, and it has a camera to take pictures of sharks,” he said. “It has a scanner to track the age and weight. You attract the sharks by using dead fish. This is for scientists only, and it costs $200. We need this invention to study more about sharks.”

Many of the campers, like rising Beaufort Middle School sixth-grader Erin Davis, has been to the camp multiple times.

“I’ve gone three times,” she said. “It’s really fun to invent things, and you make new friends. We didn’t have it the last two years, and it was sad.”

Rising BMS sixth-grader Vivian Willis has also been to the camp many times.

“I’ve been doing it since I could get in,” she said. “My dad likes to invent things, and I do, too.”

Camp instructor Laura Viverette, also a fourth-grade teacher at Morehead City Elementary, said she loved seeing students have more time to create and problem solve.

“It gives you a free-thinking and problem-solving mindset and gives you many skills you can build on,” she said. “I wish we had time to work more of this into the regular school year.”

Contact Cheryl Burke at 252-726-7081, ext. 255; email Cheryl@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @cherylccnt.

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