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Have fun. Create.

These words were the rallying cry for nine brilliant minds that came together for spectrUM’s Sci Kids Engineer It! camp on Friday.

The camp invited kids to create “earthquake proof” buildings, design a device for an egg drop competition, construct a super bouncy ball and make their own puppets with moving parts.

“It’s a great age group because of how creative they are,” lead educator and local outreach coordinator Sara Feilzer said of the kids ages 6 to 11 who spent their day on the University of Montana campus.

“Give them the supplies, and watch them build.”

Split into groups, the kids were first challenged to engineer a structure out of KEVA planks that was both tall and sturdy enough to survive an “earthquake” replicated by Feilzer and fellow educator Zach Mauer.

“Our method is to put four blocks on the sides, and two in the middle. Kind of like Jenga, but more reinforced,” said Gabe Lippy, 10.

Minutes later, Lippy, his partner and the other groups had managed to create their own unique towers that could withstand some heavy shaking.

“It’s kind of amazing how similar the buildings are, fundamentally, but you can see all the little differences,” said Feilzer.

The camp was Day Two of spectrUM’s five-day winter camp geared for young minds that enjoy science, and want to explore the subject outside of school.

Zach Mauer, who signed on about two years ago with spectrUM, said the camps and field trips that spectrUM provides are a great opportunity to bring learning out of the traditional classroom.

“We work a lot with teachers and kind of build around their curriculums,” he said.

The camp allows kids to gain hands-on experience with science while having fun doing it.

“We add new activities, but keep the core concepts of physics, engineering and chemistry,” said Feilzer, who has been working with spectrUM off and on since 2007.

“These are the types of camps kids keep coming back for,” she said.

Dylan Chaffin is a journalism major at the University of Montana and a reporting intern for the Missoulian.

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