BURLEY — Science campers made pan flutes out of straws, brainstormed inventions and watched the mysterious properties of electricity this week during the College of Southern Idaho Mini-Cassia Campus Science Camp.
Seventy-seven campers ages kindergarten through seventh grade filled four classrooms and spent the week making speakers for phones and learning how to research patents among other activities.
Idaho State University physics students held a show to teach them about the properties of electricity.
“It gives me something to do in the summer that is not boring,” said 11-year-old Taytum Powell of Burley. “It’s fun to actually do the experiments instead of just reading about them.”
Her favorite activity was making a balloon-powered race car.
The camp, which runs through Thursday, is taught by six Mini-Cassia teachers who, in return, receive professional development credit and classroom support through the year from CSI, campus director Amy Christopherson said.
“We have loyal, fun and dedicated teachers, many who come back year after year,” Christopherson said. “This model works because the teachers are just as excited by the new things as the kids.”
The University of Idaho extension program also held a Jr. Science Camp during the event for kindergarten and first graders.
The class sizes were deliberately limited this year to increase the teacher-student ratio, she said, and all classes reached capacity.
A theme that ran throughout the camp, Christopherson said, was helping children identify problems and ways to solve them. For one of the inventions campers brought in recycled items from home and devised games out of the materials.
Twelve-year-old Eli Withers, of Burley, sat at a computer on Wednesday looking up hoverboard patents to see how he could change his invention idea so it wouldn’t infringe on a previous patent. Instead of wheels on the board, he would create a flat plate to make it original.
“I really like inventing and figuring out new ways to do stuff,” Eli said.
A marble-run game he created out of a cardboard box earlier this week was the most fun, he said.
His mother, Alesha Withers, camp instructor and Burley High School teacher, said the camp gives children more exposure to science.
“It opens their minds and shows them they can be a part of science. It’s not just for scientists,” Withers said. “They realize that science is all around us and they can be engaged and not afraid.”
Jolene Toland, of Burley, grandmother of 6-year-old camper Hudson Ganoe, said the camp has been a wonderful experience for her grandson, who has autism.
“Science is his favorite thing and he’d rather be here than out playing baseball or soccer,” Toland said. “The camp has been just wonderful.”
Summertime can be especially hard on children with special needs, she said.
“They never tell him that he can’t do something,” Toland said.