SPARTA, NJ — More than 20 area children went back to school for a week of fun and creativity at Camp Invention. On Friday the campers got to show off their creations to their parents in the Sparta Middle School gymnasium.

This year the campers rotated through four different modules based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics or STEM concepts. They drew inspiration from National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees and their inventions.

The director Heather Falotico and instructors Tara Vatalaro and Laura Meade are also teachers in Sparta Middle Schools. 

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Camper after camper would only respond “it was fun,” when asked how the week went. When asked which module was their favorite, the only consensus was that “all of it” was the best.


“What I like most about Camp Invention is that it fosters learning for all involved,” Falotico said. “While K-6 campers use problem solving skills, ingenuity, creative and critical thinking skills, CITs and Leadership Interns develops and hone their leadership skills. I love seeing the innovative and inventive creations campers produce and genuinely enjoy watching the older students step in as leaders and teachers throughout the week of camp.

In Stick to It participants learned about the process of being an inventor; “thinking through challenges, overcoming failure, testing and retesting, reinspiring themselves.” In this module they had hands on activities that allowed the campers to think like a design engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist and chemist, according to the Camp Invention organizers. In addition to playing with slime, the campers either created something new each day or worked on a project throughout the camp.

The popular robotic pet vet had campers learn about running diagnostics on a robot dog. They learned about how the dog robot worked as they tried to determine what made it sick. The children created a dog park or house that they showed off to parents and siblings on Friday.

In the Optibot module campers looked into the technology behind driverless cars. Students followed the advice of Hall of Famer Fran Liger, inventor of optical biosensors, when building their optibots. They also looked into the role of sensors in underwater and flying vehicles to look into the future of transportation.

The students built mini, high tech homes in the Mod My Mini Mansion module. The children designed all aspects of what they thought would be a smart home, practicing writing code to make their smart features work together.

“Watching the campers create inventions and solve problems amazes me more each year,” Meade said.

The campers were guided by 13 high school students and two counselors in training:

  • Amineh Al-Aydi Sparta High School
  • Budoor Al-Aydi Sparta High School
  • Shay Al-Aydi Sparta High School
  • Alyssa Amorim Kittatinny Regional High School
  • Daniela Cassano Sparta High School
  • Briana Cotten Sparta High School
  • Todd Cummings Sparta High School
  • Jeremy Devaney Sparta High School
  • Corinne Groome Sparta High School
  • Shannon Furgeson Sparta Middle School
  • Katrina Furgeson Sparta Middle School
  • Sean Hannon Sparta High School
  • Caroline Kepler Sparta High School
  • Jessica Longstreth Sparta High School
  • Sophie Venus Sparta High School

This year the camp was open to students entering kindergarten through grade six. Next year there will be two opportunities for older students. There are limited opportunities for Counselors in Training or students entering grades seven through nine will be able to participate in Invention Project with a different set of modules than the younger campers.

“I love seeing the innovative and inventive creations campers produce and genuinely enjoy watching the older students step in as leaders and teachers throughout the week of camp,” Falotico said.