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Loveland students learn at Camp Invention

Loveland Classical Schools hosting summer camp
By Pamela Johnson

Ava Bode wants to have a bed that can make itself, while her fellow soon-to-be third-grader Kiersten Alverson envisions a house that does everything for you from dryers that fold the clothes to dishwashers that load themselves.

“It knows when you’re bored, and it invites a friend over,” said Kiersten, one of 78 students attending Camp Invention, a Science Technology Engineering and Math summer camp at Loveland Classical Schools.

The week-long camp, sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame, features four different stations where the children learn, explore and invent each day. The stations include working with magnetic slime, learning about body systems through robotic pets, creating smart homes and studying the sensors that make Optibots follow a color-coded path.

The elementary school students — aided by teachers and secondary students — made their own smart homes out of small boxes and recycled materials. They used their imaginations to invent features for their homes.

“One kid put down buttons,” said Heather Alverson, teacher at the school who is coordinating the camp. “Those are his solar efficient tiles that soak up the sun. He thought of that himself.”

For their homes, the students were determining what sort of green energy to incorporate — solar, hydro, wind, biomass or geothermal. They learned how these are converted to electricity, and they used battery power to install and run an LED light in each of their small homes.


Kierston Alverson, 8, and her mom and camp director, Heather Alverson, react as Kierston’s light turns on after she hooked up the wires while building a tiny cardboard smart house Tuesday while participating in an invention STEM camp at Loveland Classical Schools in Loveland. (Jenny Sparks / Loveland Reporter-Herald)

Ronan McDonough, also a third-grader, said he wants his home to have a door that knows the person approaching and unlocks and opens itself.

“It doesn’t let any bad guys in,” he added.

Down the hall, students doubled as veterinarians in a station called Robotic Pet Vet. Each participant received a small, robotic dog, which moves and barks, as a tool to learn about body systems. Tuesday, they were testing glucose levels, temperatures and pH levels to diagnose whether their robotic pets were dehydrated, diabetic or suffering from a bladder infection.

Meanwhile, other students used mini robots called Optibots that follow a trail drawn in black marker on paper. They tested out the thickness needed for the path and figured out how the hand-held device works.

“They have sensors on the bottom that attract to the black, explained Lilie Kamakele, a sixth-grade student.

Participants also decorated their Optibot cars with stickers and pompons — nothing too heavy to disrupt the aerodynamics.

At another station, Shannon Trumbo, who is going into second grade, readily described how gears work together, causing a dinosaur on an axle to spin when she winds it up while first-grader Grayson Daily giggled as slime made with iron shavings reacted to a magnet. The magnet pulled the slime, but then when left untouched, the slime enveloped the magnet as though it were quick sand.

“Mine’s getting ate-n,” Grayson laughed. “It’s gone. It got ate.”

But why? He answered, “It was magnetical.”