Every parent knows that children learn and grow at their own rates, in their own ways. For this reason, it can be a challenge to find the right educational experiences to capture your child’s interest, encourage their unique strengths and develop their skills at any age or stage.
When enrichment programs welcome a range of ages, it may seem unlikely that these programs can offer equitable benefits to every participant. It’s important to find out if a program holds the key to effectively reaching learners of various ages at once. That key is customization.
The Camp Invention® program, the flagship summer program from the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF), offers innovative learning for children entering kindergarten through sixth grade. By creating a customized curriculum, we ensure that the Camp Invention experience is just as effective for the youngest learners as it is for older children.
Understanding the Needs of Young Learners
Research tells us that when children are exposed to innovation early in life, they are more likely to become innovative adults — and it’s never too early to start. As NIHF Inductee George Alcorn explains, “I believe it’s so important to start learning and enjoying learning as young as possible ... There are certain things you can learn better, learning it earlier. It gives children even more of an advantage.”
The education staff at NIHF works closely with our Inductees, the world’s greatest inventors, to develop a new Camp Invention curriculum every year. While our program offers different activities and challenges each summer, our commitment to offering tailored content for grades K-6 remains the same.
Developing Customized Curriculum
As we develop each year’s Camp Invention curriculum, we identify opportunities to modify the content and materials for different age groups participating in the program. We supply our Instructors with clear directions, so they’ll always know when and how to tailor the curriculum for our younger and older participants.
For example, in this summer’s Deep Sea Mystery™ module, part of the Supercharged™ Camp Invention program, children will prototype several inventions, from sailboats to underwater research equipment. Younger children may have a more difficult time cutting, taping and manipulating materials while prototyping, so we prepare our Instructors to offer alternative materials or greater assistance in ways that will encourage children’s persistence.
Also in our Supercharged program, the DIY Orbot™ module offers each participant the chance to customize their own remote-controlled robot to perform a series of tasks. Our curriculum guides Instructors to introduce different discussion prompts as students work through each task. For instance, younger students will be asked “If you could have a remote do anything, what would it do?” This question is meant to spark imagination and creativity. Meanwhile, older students will be engaged with questions that require deeper thinking, like “Why do you think it is valuable to understand how things work?”
While some terms and concepts used in our program may not be familiar to the youngest participants, what is important is that positive associations are being made between science, discovery, invention and fun. When kindergarteners attend Camp Invention, we see that sometimes just giving them access to fun materials, like printed tape or pulleys, is an exciting way to begin exposing them to STEM.
Led by certified local teachers, our program is designed to create an atmosphere that fosters fun and learning among our young participants. For instance, we know that kindergarteners and other young children need to feel comfortable in their environment. They need to have explicit information, like where the restroom is or when and where they will be eating, to give them a sense of security as they engage in our program activities.
In a supportive environment, young children exercise their creativity freely, and this often inspires more novel thinking in the older students who interact with them. Having a positive experience in this environment encourages all our participants to engage in future STEM learning and innovation, which is the ultimate goal of Camp Invention.
Register Your Child for Camp Invention
Our Instructors are prepared to support participants’ comfort, confidence and creativity, and they’ll make sure your child fully enjoys and benefits from each activity they encounter.
We encourage you to visit our website to learn more about how our program can inspire, encourage and educate your child. You can find a program location near you and register your child for this summer’s Camp Invention today.