By Samantha Smith
Noisy chatter from students trickled into the mostly empty hallway of Barton Middle School Tuesday.
Their excitement was palpable as they discussed the day’s task of creating a type of wearable technology.
One team worked on constructing a jet pack designed to run on solar power. Another team came up with the idea of a parachute vest that could be worn by hikers for added safety near cliff faces – or the absent-minded individual playing Pokémon Go.
“It could be worn while hiking or looking for Pokémon so someone doesn’t get hurt,” Ryah Gonzales said.
The exercise is part of the Invention Project program hosted by Hays CISD this week.
The program is one of four different modules designed by the National Inventors Hall of Fame and partnered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and the Collegiate Inventors Competition.
The four modules include the Invention Project, Camp Invention, a high school internship program and the Collegiate Inventors Competition.
Through the Invention Project, students from grades 6-8 are allowed to explore “the passion and pride behind turning ideas into inventions, and bringing inventions to the market,” according to the project website.
Tish Cawley, Hays CISD coordinator of gifted and talented services, said this was the first year the organization offered a module for middle school aged students at Hays CISD. The district was one of only three school districts in the nation participating in the Invention Project program.
Cawley said the district hosted the Camp Invention program last year with much success.
Camp Invention, according to the website, is a summer program designed for children grades 1-6 that focuses on “creativity, innovation, real-world problem solving and the spirit of invention.” Camp Invention presents Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) concepts through hands-on activities. The other three modules are Camp Invention, offered to children from 1st to 6th grade.
Hays CISD then added the Invention Project program this summer, with 19 students so far enrolling in the program. and a collegiate inventors competition.
Karen Sinor, a director and Instructor of the Invention Project, was also involved in the Camp Invention program.
Sinor said the Camp Invention and Invention Project allows students to fail in order to give them the confidence to push through those failures and produce innovative results.
“I’m very excited to be involved in the program because they provide all the learning tools for the curriculum that teachers don’t always have access to,” said Sinor.
Ian Morales, 13, participated in the Camp Invention program last year as a counselor in training. He decided to attend the Invention Project program as a result of his positive experience.
“I like the program because it teaches you how to work out any problem and how to work with others,” said Morales.
Noah Mugan, 12, said he was interested in attending the camp because he wants to be a physics engineer in the U.S. space program someday.
“I want to be a physics engineer someday working in space travel,” Mugan said.
Along with the Invention Project, Hays CISD is also hosting the high school internship program, which helps students learn leadership skills
The program also helps students earn National Honor Society points and letters of recommendation towards their future education goals.
For Sinor, the concept of the programs Hays CISD offers is helpful for future generations.
“[It] is helping shape the thinkers of tomorrow,” Sinor said.