Part of our mission at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) is to provide the best and most impactful STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education programs for students around the country. During the summer of 2017, with generous support from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation, we partnered with Dr. John Falk to study the effectiveness of our flagship summer program: Camp Invention®.
As the founding director of the Center for Research on Lifelong STEM Learning at Oregon State University, Dr. Falk is internationally recognized as an expert on free-choice learning and a leader in STEM education.
We invite you to read Dr. Falk’s findings below!
The Power of One Week
Dr. Falk’s study found that participating in just one week of our Camp Invention program resulted in statistically significant improvements in creativity, STEM interest and the ability to use and apply problem-solving techniques.
Students who attended Camp Invention multiple times over a four-year span showed significantly higher levels in creativity, STEM interest and problem-solving aptitude compared to students with no previous (or only limited) Camp Invention experience.
Sustained Long-Term Impact
Over the long term, ranging from one to four years after attending Camp Invention, there is even stronger evidence of statistically significant growth in creativity, STEM interest and problem-solving abilities.
Innovative Programming, Proven Results
Dr. Falk’s research builds on the work of previous independent evaluations that collectively demonstrate the positive impact of the Camp Invention experience on campers’ STEM interest, creativity and problem-solving skills. His findings suggest that these positive effects impact students far beyond the one-week session and that participating in Camp Invention more than once results in even greater increases in these areas.
Dr. Falk’s findings reinforce our belief that out-of-school time (OST) opportunities are essential to cultivating a student’s interests and passions. This research is grounded in the power of free-choice learning, which encourages students to have more choice and control in learning about topics that align with their natural interests.
Applying the Camp Invention Takeaways to other OST Programs
The findings from Dr. Falk’s Camp Invention research can be applied to other OST programs. The essential elements to incorporate into OST programs are to give youth more choice and control over personalizing their experience to better accommodate different personalities and learning styles, and to provide ongoing experience and support for entrepreneurial and STEM activities for children.
The Camp Invention Impact
For nearly two decades, Camp Invention’s impact has been measured through independent evaluations. These evaluations have shown that participation in just one week of Camp Invention results in statistically significant short-term and long-term improvements in:
- STEM interest
- Problem-solving skills
Not only has creativity been listed as the No. 1 leadership competency in an IBM research study, but the World Economic Forum also lists creativity, complex problem solving and coordinating with others among its top 10 skills needed to thrive in 2025.
Check Out Dr. Falk’s New Website!
Recently, the Institute for Learning Innovation launched a new website that explores the benefits of free-choice learning. Packed with helpful resources, blog posts and informative research, it’s an excellent place to go to learn why education that takes place outside of the classroom is critically important.