The best ideas grow and change over time, and our education programs at the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) are no exception. One notable change in our Camp Invention® summer program is the evolution of our Take Apart activity.
With help from Instructors, Leadership Interns (LIs) and Leaders-in-Training (LITs), children use real tools to uncover the inner components of common devices. Because NIHF believes in providing accessible experiences for all children, the Take Apart activity has evolved over the years to be more equitable and consistent.
In the early years of the program, which began in 1990, campers would bring in their own gadgets for Take Apart – from VCRs to electronic toys, we’ve seen it all! Working under adult supervision and with safety gear, children could explore the inside parts and pieces of familiar items and begin to understand how these elements work together inside the device. However, it was challenging to ensure that each camper received a consistent experience when their items varied significantly.
Slowly, our Take Apart activity has evolved, and NIHF now provides a uniform item to each camper to ensure a positive time for all. Plus, campers now get to learn even more about the inner workings of their devices with a more equal, guided activity at camp. Of course, we continue to encourage children to practice the skills they have acquired by completing their own unique Take Apart experience at home.
Providing uniform gadgets for all campers to take apart allows us to make sure that each child has an equitable and consistent experience, while also encouraging them to create and put together their own unique innovations. We strive to give kids opportunities to use a variety of tools to practice both reverse and forward engineering. Reverse engineering involves taking an object apart to understand how it works, while forward engineering occurs as campers put items together to create a device.
“When we give children the opportunity to reverse and forward engineer similar items at the same time, we can take a deeper dive into the details and components, and foster a cross exchange of STEM ideas and conversation,” explained Jayme Cellitioci, creativity and innovation strategist at NIHF. “We are also able to provide more background information that allows children to make more meaningful discoveries and connections. This includes having National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees describe how the parts and pieces — sometimes including their own patented inventions — work together.”
In Camp Invention’s all-new 2022 Explore program, children find many hands-on engineering opportunities. In the NIHF’s The Attic™ experience, for example, campers build their own Arty Bot, a spinning robotic artist they use to create colorful masterpieces. Using a motor, batteries and other materials, they experiment with circuitry. They also put their new skills to use as they take apart a robotic fish at home in an extension of the Robotic Aquatics™ experience!
To explore each of the fun experiences at Camp Invention this summer, and to sign up your own young innovator, we invite you to visit our website.