Camp Invention®, the K-6 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) summer camp from the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, guides children to develop the I Can Invent® Mindset through innovative problem solving inspired by real-world inventors. Camp alum Landri Drude, 17, recently chatted with us to share her thoughts on Camp Invention and the love of science she’s fostered since childhood.
Exploring Interests at Camp Invention
While in elementary school, Landri attended Camp Invention for several summers. “I think it still impacts me a lot,” she shared. The hands-on science exploration at camp was different from what she’d experienced in the classroom. Alana Drude, Landri’s mother, explained that “it gave her more freedom than school.”
While Landri was always curious about science, Camp Invention helped her feel more confident in sharing her interests. Before attending camp, she engaged in her own science experiments, letting her imagination guide her but keeping her results hidden. “After Camp Invention, and my parents getting to see what I enjoy and why I enjoy it, that’s when I started doing experiments without feeling like I had to hide it,” explained Landri.
She recalls the excitement of going to camp on her first day with a bag of upcycling materials. Campers bring everyday items like plastic bottles and cardboard boxes to build prototypes that bring their big ideas to life. “Every day we had a new challenge,” Landri said. “Having interactive games to play definitely helped with communication, working together and building friendships.”
From teaching the safe and responsible use of tools to encouraging creative play, camp allows children the opportunity to explore, create and take safe risks. “You want kids to have a voice and you want them to have choice, and I think that’s something that, when she was going through that process, she had,” explained Alana.
Looking back on her time at Camp Invention, Landri believes every kid, whether they have always loved STEM or are new to exploring it, should give camp a try. “I think it is a great experience for people who don’t feel like they need to win everything – they just want to be there for their own independent experience and making connections with people,” Landri said.
No matter where your child’s interests lie, Camp Invention provides chances for them to learn and grow. “There’s a social aspect, artistic aspect, individuality,” said Landri. “Any kid should experience it for at least one summer!”
Identifying Innovative Role Models
Every child who attends Camp Invention engages in experiences that are directly informed and inspired by National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees. Representing diverse backgrounds, fields and accomplishments, these relatable role models help every camper to recognize their own innovative potential.
After attending Camp Invention, Landri also won an opportunity to attend the 2015 National Inventors Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in Washington, D.C., where she met some of the world-changing inventors who have been featured in Camp Invention curricula.
Meeting Inductee Jaap Haartsen, inventor of Bluetooth® wireless technology, was particularly impactful for Landri. “I don’t think I realized how big of a deal that was when I was little,” Landri shared. She now understands the true value of the moment since diving deeper into STEM exploration. “I go to school every day and I listen to music – and I put my headphones in and connect them with Bluetooth. I do that every single day and think, ‘I met the inventor of Bluetooth!’”
As Landri and Alana spoke with other Induction Ceremony guests, Landri asserted that she was already set on being a scientist. “That’s the moment we knew the impact that Camp Invention had on her confidence,” shared Alana. “The fact that she went to [Induction] and 110% she knows that she could be anything she wants to be.”
Pursuing STEM Goals
Now a high school student, Landri believes many of her favorite elements of Camp Invention are still relevant to her STEM goals today. Campers are encouraged to achieve their goals their own way, through trial and error, and Landri carries this same mindset with her now. “I’m interested in computer science, where in order to get an outcome, there are multiple ways to do so,” she explained.
Camp introduces children to valuable skills that are relevant across many careers and shows them what is possible in their future. Alana believes that Landri “wouldn’t even have considered that path [in computer science] had she not started on the Camp Invention path.”
Recently, while visiting several universities, Landri has been able to relate to a community of like-minded peers and is inspired by the integration of technology across campuses.
Following one of these visits, Alana reached out to the National Inventors Hall of Fame. "Landri went to visit Purdue University today to see the polytechnic school,” said Alana. “I shed some tears today thinking about her experiences at Camp Invention. You all introduced her to another world she may have never even visited."
As Landri continues her STEM journey, we wish her the best of luck and cannot wait to see her continued success.
Do You Have a Camp Invention Story of Your Own?
If your child has attended Camp Invention and is interested in sharing their experience, we would love to hear from you! We encourage you to fill out this form on our website to tell us about your child’s Camp Invention story.
To learn more about this summer’s all-new Camp Invention program, check out our website!