Bangor children get new science summer camp opportunity with Camp Invention

Posted Feb. 29, 2012, at 11:02 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — It was a tough act to follow after ceremonies honoring members of three state championship varsity sports teams turned Wednesday night’s Bangor School Committee meeting into a pep rally, but two teachers directing a unique new science program were up to the task.

Barbara Clewley from Downeast School and Martha Gladstone of Vine Street School left committee members and onlookers visibly impressed, entertained and excited after their presentation for Camp Invention in the Bangor City Hall chambers, which served as a science lab for part of the presentation.

“I think it’s such an exciting opportunity for our younger children,” said Phyllis Guerette, committee chairwoman. “The whole concept of STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education is filtering down through the grades and this is another chance to get more people involved.”

Camp Invention — a five-day summer camp for elementary school students designed to immerse children in science, math, history and the arts through experimentation and interaction — complements STEM ideals well.

“It’s all about questioning things, forming ideas and potential solutions, and testing those solutions,” said Clewley. “Kids will learn about things from alternative energy to economics.”

This year, the camp will be held in just two Maine cities: Bangor and Portland. Bangor’s camp will run July 9-13 at Mary Snow School from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day. The cost is $215 per student, but scholarships will be available for lower-income participants.

As many as 110 students will be divided into groups of 22 and cycle through different “modules” which present different challenges for students to solve.

Clewley and Gladstone demonstrated a typical camp invention experiment with the help of two faculty members. Each was asked to fill a balloon with the amount of baking powder they thought would be needed to react with vinegar in a plastic bottle and create enough air from the chemical reaction to inflate attached balloons enough to fit under a baseball cap or hat. A video presentation followed the experiment, which resulted in both balloons being inflated enough for their respective hats.

Wednesday’s meeting resembled a schoolday with a science lab, business and economics classes, and even some testing. But it all started with phys ed as Bangor’s unbeaten girls soccer team was honored for being ranked eighth nationally and second in New England by the National Soccer Coaches Association.

Both Bangor’s boys and girls swimming and diving teams also were honored for winning Class A state championships this winter. Senior Gordon Carroll, who helped lead Bangor’s boys to a sixth straight state title, recently was named an Academic All-American and will attend the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

Anyone interested in finding out more about nonprofit group Invent Now’s 22-year-old Camp Invention program or contributing to the Bangor program’s scholarship fund can call Clewley at 659-7001 or Gladstone at 941-6300. They also can call the Bangor school superintendent office at 992-4205.

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