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McKeesport Area summer camp concludes with duck-launching challenge |

McKeesport Area summer camp concludes with duck-launching challenge

Valley News Dispatch
| Thursday, June 27, 2013 7:10 a.m
Jennifer R. Vertullo | Daily News
McKeesport Area students, from left, Elijah Wanzo, Noah Kohl and Tyler Klacik test their catapult in a duck-chucking competition during the Camp Invention summer program.

McKeesport Area students will put their scientific skills to the test on Thursday when the Camp Invention summer program closes with a competition.

The enrichment program at McKeesport Area High School is for students entering fourth through seventh grade. Its goal is to instill 21st-century learning skills such as problem solving and teamwork through 10 half-days of scientific lessons and experiments. Students learned machine concepts through reverse engineering and applied them to three project modules.

In “Amazing Atlas,” students interpreted longitude and latitude of various points around the globe.

In “Cache Dash,” they learned about geocaching.

In “I Can Invent: Launchitude,” participants applied concepts of physics and entrepreneurship to create machines that launch rubber ducks.

Teacher Sherry Yocco said she and staffers Betsy Hochstine, Jamie Lusebrink and Ed Camic were surprised by the variety of student inventions.

“Their creativity and their teamwork was impressive,” Yocco said. “They all had different ideas. What they thought was an impossible task turned into a lot of really cool inventions.”

Students were asked to develop machines that could launch a rubber duck in a culminating challenge on Thursday, and tension heightened earlier this week when students were told they cannot use their hands to launch the duck.

Olivia Bakaturski, an incoming sixth-grader, said her group’s biggest challenge was building a sturdy launch pad for their catapult design.

“We wanted to use a paper plate,” she said. “We had to put a few together so it wouldn’t bend.”

Lusebrink said Camp Invention pushed students to “think outside the box” this year, its third in the district.

“If you look at what they are working with, you wonder how they created something,” she said. “It’s all about problem solving and creativity.”

Hochstine said the program teaches kids to be truly inventors.

“We invent. We discover. We create. We uncover. And we have fun while we’re doing it,” she said, reciting the camp’s motto.

Jennifer R. Vertullo is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-664-9161 ext. 1956, or

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