Creative Thinking and Engineering

Creative Thinking and Engineering

Standing, from left, Evan Cater and Cam Meyer explain LEGO building techniques to the young campers.

Standing, from left, Evan Cater and Cam Meyer explain LEGO building techniques to the young campers. Photo by Bonnie Hobbs.

— Philip Everard is only 8, but says he’s been building with LEGOs ever since he was born. “We had [the large] Duplo LEGOs then,” he said. “My brother would put them in my hand and guide me.”

Both he and his brother Stephen, 11, attended the recent Lego camp in Clifton and had a great time. A third-grader at Willow Springs Elementary, Philip said they have two big tubs of LEGOs at home, plus a shelf displaying some things they’ve built.

“Stephen and me like to buy LEGO sets and sometimes we build them like they say,” said Philip. “But we also like not to so we can get better at building. We play good guy vs. bad guy and we especially like building big robots. But sometimes our little brother James, who’s 5, smashes what we’ve made and then we have to recreate it.”

Philip came to camp to improve his skill at building with LEGOs without instructions. “I’ve learned different techniques, and I’ve enjoyed combining parts from old creations,” he said. “At the end of the camp, we’ll put everything all together to make something. I’m thinking of making a robotic dinosaur.”

Clifton’s Nicholas Richmond, 9, says LEGOs are easy to build with; and at camp, he learned that “you have to build a thick structure so your creation doesn’t fall down. I liked building whatever I felt like, and I liked the challenge where we had to build something fast.”

Friend Ryker Lawter, also 9 and from Clifton, especially likes constructing vehicles. “I make any kind of transportation, including fantasy vehicles,” he said. “The coolest thing I built was an RV with two trailers connected.”

He came to camp because it sounded like fun to him and some of his friends also attended. “I like how you get to keep the LEGOs you built with, at the end,” said Ryker. “My favorite things I built here are a robot and a speedboat, and I got second place in the car-race challenge.”

A rising third-grader at Greenbriar West Elementary, Chris Woodward, 8, also enjoys building cars and other moving objects. “It’s fun because it takes a long time and keeps you company,” he said. “My biggest LEGO set is a ‘Toy Story’ train that’s about 500 pieces.” At camp, he liked building robots the best and was glad he went so he could “learn how to build my own things, not following directions.”

Clifton resident Cam Meyer started the camp and led it with friend Evan Cater. “This camp brings together kids with a common interest in taking LEGO-building to the next level,” said Cam’s mother, Kari Meyer. “They make new friends, which is awesome, and they love competing against each other. It unites creative thinking, problem solving and basic engineering principles.”

Besides, added Philip’s mom, Wendy Everard, “It’s pretty impressive that they created a program that occupied kids for three hours a day, five days a week — and they’re all working well together and not fighting.”