A chance to build a pulley for a monkey

A chance to build a pulley for a monkey

Port Washington children now have the opportunity to use science, technology, engineering and math to invent new products during the summer.

Starting Aug.15, Camp Invention, a summer program focused on allowing children to be creative, brainstorm ideas and build prototypes, will run in Port Washington for the first time.

Rachel Gilliar said she heard of the camp last summer and sent her children to it in Rockville Centre, but decided that the program would benefit Port Washington children, too. 

The program will be held at the Community Synagogue on 160 Middle Neck Road in Port Washington and is open to children in first to sixth grade;  30 have enrolled.

“The Rockville Centre location has been running for five years and they were wonderful there, but the daily drive was a deterrent,” Gilliar said. “I thought our community should have our own Camp Invention, so I contacted them.”

The camp’s curriculum changes every year, Gilliar said, but always provides children the chance to explore different types of technology while building things and taking things apart.

This year, the camp’s curriculum is called “Epic” and children will be constructing and personalizing a do-it-yourself solar-powered cricket and a habitat, a camp news release said. Campers will work in teams to create an “eco-adventure park” where they will brainstorm ideas and construct prototypes with real tools and components. 

Gilliar said  the camp’s regional director has already spoken to the assistant superintendent for curriculum for the Port Washington School District, Dr. Wafa Westervelt, and that Westervelt is “very intrigued by the program and thinks it’s educationally important.”

However, Westervelt said the district couldn’t host the camp this year, so Gilliar, who serves as the camp’s director, brought it to the synagogue.

“It is fun, but in the midst of the fun, the children happen to be learning critical thinking skills,” Gilliar said. “The children will be designing a pulley system to get the monkey to the top of the palm tree, among other things.”

Port Washington parents, Gilliar said, have been very enthusiastic about the camp, but it was difficult to promote the camp and get its name out to the public. She said that because the program isn’t being hosted by the school district, only limited marketing through the schools was possible.

“The school district did post the flier on their web site, but the green policy wouldn’t allow the flier to be sent home in backpacks,” Gilliar said. “Some schools were fantastic and realized that this was an idea that deserved to be publicized.”

The camp will run from Aug. 15 to 19 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

“The children had an amazing experience,” Gilliar said, “and I could see the impact on how my children look at the world around them and how they envision what they can do.”

By Stephen Romano

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