For the past week, the Crowder College Technical Building has been the site of duck-launcher construction, global exploration and treasure hunting.

Children in grades first through sixth put their imaginations to work while working in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math as they participated in the weeklong Camp Invention Geo-Quest.

The annual camp drew 43 students from the Neosho area, who kicked off their week of creative learning on Monday, July 29 and wrapped up the week of activities with a presentation to parents on Friday afternoon.

“They’ve been learning so much stuff all week long, I think after a couple of weeks they’ll go ‘Oh, that’s what that was about,’ because it’ll take a little while for it all to sink in,” said camp leader Judy Hall.

Hall said the children cycled through four sections of the camp daily, with each focusing on a different element of the geo-quest.

Among the modules was the Ecoverse, where students studied the sea, sky, land and underground. Among the Ecoverse activities was a look at fire and molten rock. On the final day, the students used their tools created from recycled materials to search for fossils.

Another area of study was the I Can Invent: Launchitude module, where the participants worked in teams to create a duck-chucking device, with the intention of launching at least 10-feet.

The duck launchers were made from a variety of recycled materials, including cardboard, cans and parts of broken or unused appliances.   

The device demonstrations were held at the conclusion of the camp on Friday.

Nathan Jackson carried his group’s duck launcher into the Crowder College Student Center in preparation for the launch on Friday, as the launcher stood slightly taller than him.

“I think it’s more like a rocket,” Jackson said. “The cardboard has lots of cans in it to make it sturdy so it won’t roll over, and this right here is reflectors, so it will reflect the light.”

While the duck-launching device was made up of recycled materials, in Jackson’s imagination, it was a bit sturdier.

“In my imagination it’s all made out of metal,” he said.

Earlier that morning, Brylee Sage worked with her team to put the finishing touches on her group’s duck launching device.

“I’m building a giant slingshot to shoot our duck all the way 10-feet,” Sage said. “We are using cardboard, masking tape, duct tape and metal and screws along with rubber bands and plastic to build it.”

The students also took part in the Amazing Atlas section, where they looked at far-away places, including the Dead Sea and the Sahara Desert.

“We’ve traveled to different areas and they learn all about the area they’ve explored,” Hall said. “They find it by latitude and longitude, I give them clues and they try to guess where we’re going.”

In the fourth module, the Cache Dache, the children searched for treasure-filled caches. Among the activities was a look at the science of sandstorms, hurricanes and tsunamis.

Hall said the week of hands-on learning put a focus on team-work.

“We’ve really worked on teams this year, on how to work as a team, how to listen to others’ ideas, how not to give up as a team,” Hall said, noting that the students kept journals and shared their ideas with each other throughout the week.

She said the students also practiced perseverance in the week’s projects.

“A lot of hesitation comes whenever they’re first here and they have all of the expectations on them,” she said. “Then, they learn the scientific process and part of it is failing. They learn more from failing than they do most of the time from succeeding. All of these things have been tested all week long, they’ve failed a number of times, but every time they learn something new.”

Camp Invention started in 1990 and is held at more than 1,200 sites in 49 states.