35 Signs of learning at Camp Innovate

By Erika Solberg

In honor of The Center’s 35th year, here are 35 signs of learning at this year’s Camp Innovate:

  1. 59 third, fourth, and fifth graders are attending.
  2. Students are taking courses in Art, Science, Clowning, Math, and Language Arts.
  3. The theme of innovation runs through every class, and teachers have themselves come up with innovative ways to employ the theme.
  4. Every morning, the whole class reads a book together, such as The Tomorrow Book, the story of a prince who sees problems in his country and comes up with solutions.
  5. On Tuesday morning, campers were reminded that “Innovators need knowledge. It’s great to have ideas, but you need knowledge to back it up.”

    Math teacher Allison Bemiss reads a book to her class Monday, July 10. Students completed a series of activities that went along with the story in order to learn about probability and chance. (Photo by Brook Joyner)
    Math teacher Allison Bemiss reads a book to her class Monday, July 10. Students completed a series of activities that went along with the story in order to learn about probability and chance. (Photo by Brook Joyner)

In Math class …

  1. Students shot basketballs and soccer balls, bowled, and putted to learn about probability, averages, and data collection.
  2. Teacher Allison Bemiss read the book A Very Improbable Story to her students and had them figure the probability of a classmate pulling out two matching socks from a basket of 20.
  3. Instead of saying, “I disagree with you,” students say, “I disagree with your idea.”
  4. Students are conducting a Barbie bungee-ing project that involves data, probability, T-charts, slopes, linear equations, rubber bands, and, of course, a Barbie doll.
  5. To learn about slope, students plotted paired coordinates, graphed a line of best fit, and used the line to make a ramp down which to run a toy truck to see what slope makes it go faster or slower.
  6. When Allison misplotted a coordinate, she made the error into a chance to demonstrate how making a mistake is a chance to learn.

In science class …

  1. In the class’s makerspace, students have multiple opportunities to work through the seven-step engineering process that starts with “define the problem” and ends with “evaluate your solution.”
  2. Students have agreed to be willing to take risks, share their thoughts, and ask questions when something is unclear.
  3. Teacher Stephanie Helton likes to call her students Party People, and when she calls out, “Innovate!” they answer, “Mind blown!”
  4. Students will learn about car emissions and come up with alternative methods to power cars, building prototypes out of recycled goods.
  5. Using straw, yarn, tape, and a paper cup, students will challenge themselves to create a structure to hold a cup of as many pennies as possible.
  6. One problem for which students are designing innovative solutions relates to getting up and out the door on time during the school year; their prototypes, built from art supplies, include a scented alarm clock, and a treadmill bed.

    Aanyaa Arora (middle) shows her drawing to Art teacher Andee Rudolff in class Monday, July 10. (Photo by Brook Joyner
    Aanyaa Arora (middle) shows her drawing to Art teacher Andee Rudloff in class Monday, July 10. (Photo by Brook Joyner

In Art class …

  1. Teacher Andee Rudloff aims to reignite her students’ creative confidence by having them think about color and the story they want to tell.
  2. Andee, an expert mural maker, will help her students create mini-murals.
  3. Students collaborated with their classmates in small teams by making a drawing that demonstrated their team communication style, morphing the drawing into an image, and telling a story about it — in one picture, a big pink snail became a travelling girl’s pet.
  4. In a demonstration of innovative thinking, students combined a noun, verb, and adjective or adverb and then created art inspired by their word choice, making images like “a cactus convertible goes fast,” “a purple flower jumps,” and “a green tiger flies” out of construction paper, glue, scissors, and markers.
  5. Andee stresses to her students that “Everybody thinks differently.”
  6. As part of a lesson on surrealism, students were given some fruit, told to stop eating it just a few bites in, and then used the fruit to tell a story.

In Language Arts class …

  1. Students made plastic bags into jump ropes, necklaces, basketballs, and bows.
  2. The board in the classroom contains a quotation from innovator Isatou Ceesay: “I didn’t call out the problems — I called out the solutions.”
  3. Students designed magnets that contained a message they wanted to share about the environment.
  4. When Mary said, “It’s time to clean up,” her students groaned but perked up when she reassured them they could return to their projects as much as they wanted later in the week, one method by which Mary provides differentiation in her classroom.
  5. Students wrote stories describing a world of the future that they dreamed of and made shadow boxes to go with their visions which included air ships, cars that run on water, and more trees.
  6. Students will read Chris Van Allsburg’s The Stranger and write their own versions of the story.

In Clowning …

  1. Students learned never to say, “I can’t.”
  2. By turning peacock feathers into juggling instruments, students got innovative, balancing them on their hands, feet, and noses.
  3. Students will transform balloons into shapes like dogs and flowers.
  4. Juggling is about problem solving: as they tossed scarves and balls, students adjusted their technique to be more successful.
  5. Local magician Mr. Magic taught the students about optical illusions.
  6. Students will create designs for their clown personas and on the last day, with the help of teacher and veteran clown Nick Wilkins, transform their faces with make-up.