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story.lead_photo.caption STAFF PHOTO Melissa Gute Katherine Robinson, left, works Wednesday with camp participants Tarak Sristy, center, and Michael Marron on last-minute details of their section of a chain reaction course.

BENTONVILLE -- Fifteen children ewaited for the metal ball, no larger than a marble, to be released from the rim of a plastic funnel with a piece of string.

Once it was released they would know how well they engineered a labyrinth of chain reactions that would conclude with a dancing toy. The course was made from various material: Objects with height, items made of wood, metal and plastic, electrical components such batteries and motors, toys and other things that made sound.

At A Glance


Amazeum is an interactive museum being built at 1009 Museum Way in Bentonville. It’s scheduled to open next year. To see a list of museum events, including Tinkerfest in October, visit

Source: Staff Report

The goal was to illustrate cause and effect, said Mindy Porter, Amazeum director of education.

The course was divided into seven sections, and the children worked in pairs of two. One group had three. Each group had an hour and a half to create a section of the course that had an input and output with at least one circuit.

"Outside of that, we left it up to them," Porter said.

The exercise was one of many during Amazeum's weeklong camp for children ages 9 to 12. Each day was focused on a principle. Monday was focused on science, Tuesday on technology, Wednesday on engineering, Thursday on art and Friday on math.

"We wanted to expose them to those five areas of learning and for them to know how those areas all work together," Porter said.

A principal was explored separately each day, but some of the concepts carried over to other days, she said.

"All those subjects you really can't study independently, they all work together," she said.

The camp also was designed to teach children 21st century learning skills such as how to work through a frustration moment, how to collaborate with others and how to be creative, Porter said.

Several of the campers said on Wednesday that Tuesday's technology activities were their favorite so far.

Jason Quail, a technology hobbyist, demonstrated a 3-D printer and Google Glasses.

The glasses were like a smartphone and eyeglasses combined, campers said.

"It's like a projection screen, but only you can see it," said Mattie Thompson, 10.

Quail showed the children different games that could be played with the glasses such as Pong where the wearer uses their head as the paddle for the virtual ping-pong game.

The 3-D printer also made an impression.

Layers of plastic were placed on top of each other until an item was produced, campers said.

Quail printed several items including a keychain with the word "Amazeum" on it. He said NASA could print pizza, but it took an hour to print one slice, said Alex Roebuck, 10.

"He said he hasn't run into anything you cannot print," said Arthi Krishna, 12. "So you can basically print anything."

"It was like so cool," Roebuck said.

The energy in the Tinkering Studio on Northeast Second Street stood still for a brief moment before Emma Knight pulled the string to release the metal ball.

The campers' 15 sets of eyeballs followed it as it connected with the next reaction. They occasionally helped the course along when it got caught or stalled. But it made it through, triggering a duck-like toy that played music and danced at the finale, at which point the campers celebrated with dance and laughter.

The camp was the last of a series of Amazeum summer camps. The museum partnered with Trike Theatre to offer the Science of Acting for those going into third, fourth and fifth grades and The Magic School Bus for children ages 4 through second-graders.

Curiosity Camp was a family-style camp that catered to 4- and 5-year-olds who were accompanied by an adult.

"It's a great way to end three weeks of summer camps," Porter said. "We've been experimental with our camps this summer to see what the community likes and doesn't like and what works for us."

Amazeum will offer a lot more summer camps once the museum opens, she said.

NW News on 08/09/2014

Print Headline: Amazeum Camps Spark Excitement

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