To inspire and cultivate diverse STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent, the Department of Defense (DoD) invests in STEM education, outreach and workforce development. The National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) is proud to partner with the DoD and its Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) to accomplish these shared goals.
DSEC was launched in 2019 as a collaborative partnership of STEM-focused organizations dedicated to prioritizing the nation’s STEM talent. As one of more than 28 DSEC partners, NIHF supports the DoD STEM Strategic Plan, reaching students and educators across the country to strengthen STEM literacy and leadership.
Louie Lopez, director of DoD STEM, explained, “As the largest federal employer of STEM professionals and with over 80% of jobs that will require STEM skills over the next decade, the DoD is dedicated to investing in future STEM talent through programs that develop persistence and entrepreneurship, such as problem solving, critical thinking, collaboration and communication.”
Read on to learn more about these collaborative efforts to reach the next generation of STEM leaders with accessible, hands-on learning opportunities.
Building a Meaningful Partnership
The DoD and NIHF share both a commitment to supporting experiential STEM learning and promoting relatable STEM role models.
All NIHF education programs are built on the knowledge that active, hands-on learning is both more engaging and more effective than passive learning methods. Because NIHF education programs including Camp Invention® are inspired and directly influenced by NIHF Inductees, each hands-on experience also offers unique opportunities to identify innovative role models who represent a variety of fields and backgrounds.
Children who attend Camp Invention in communities near DoD facilities also have the unique opportunity to meet DoD scientists and engineers who look like them, work nearby and can share information about careers in STEM.
This is an important part of what makes NIHF’s work with DSEC so impactful — the opportunity to help children build confidence through hands-on experiences while identifying diverse role models who allow them to see their own potential.
“This program gives my child the opportunity to explore and express his scientific ideas and abilities. It helps build his confidence and provides a positive, hands-on learning environment.”
— Brad S., West Milton, Ohio
“The experience fueled creativity and knowledge that anything can be invented by anyone.”
— Candice C., Temple, Texas
Making STEM Education Accessible
To offer effective STEM programs within reach for more young innovators, the DoD has made it a priority to provide learning opportunities to underserved children and those from military-connected families.
In sharing this commitment, NIHF created Camp Invention Connect® — an at-home program option for children who are unable to attend Camp Invention in person. This virtual program combines creative, hands-on challenges with opportunities to collaborate virtually with fellow campers and a qualified educator from the comfort of their own home. This program aligns especially well with the goals of the DSEC initiative because it is particularly helpful for children who lack access to a local, in-person program and those from military families who frequently move. It allows children to engage in an immersive experience that connects them with their peers, regardless of where they are.
In 2022, nearly 1,100 children participated in DSEC-supported NIHF programs, primarily Camp Invention Connect. Nearly 80% of these children were military-connected and the remaining campers were underserved.
“We moved yet again during the pandemic, and we were so grateful for the consistency of the Camp Invention experience for her, even in different states.”
— Kathleen F., San Antonio, Texas
“This was the perfect activity to break in a cross-country move when there’s a lot of unknowns. This gave them that confidence to adjust to their new surroundings. It was an awesome experience!”
— Celia P., Coachella, California
Learn More About the DoD and DSEC
NIHF would like to offer sincere thanks to the DoD for its partnership and support in bringing accessible STEM and invention education to children nationwide. To learn more about how the DoD is shaping the future of STEM, please visit its website.