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STEM Activities

STEM Activity: Creativity is PHENOMENAL!

In celebration of World Creativity and Innovation Day this month, explore the use of phenomena to make creative connections!


Materials Needed

  • Paper, sketchbook or journal
  • Observation tools, if available (binoculars, magnifying glass)
  • Pencil

Step-by-Step Instructions

Part One:

Many inventors share that invention often begins with observing a problem. Observable events or processes that happen in the natural world are known as phenomena. Exploring phenomena will help you build your observation skills on your invention pathway!

  1. Find a sketchbook, journal or just a blank piece of paper, and head outside to observe your surroundings.
  2. Look around and see what you notice. Perhaps you observe a shadow of a tree on the ground, or tracks in the dirt made by a small bug crawling by. Phenomena can be anything that piques interest or gets you to ask “Why?” or “How does that happen?” or say “I wonder…”!
  3. In your journal or on your paper, sketch, draw or jot down some notes about what you have observed.
  4. Now, think about three things your observations make you wonder (e.g., do you wonder how a shadow is made or how the angle of sunlight changes an object’s shadow?).
  5. Next, investigate some of your wonderings. Click here for wonder inspiration from National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) Inductee and NASA scientist Jacqueline Quinn before starting your quest.
  6. What did you discover through investigating your wonder questions? Add your discoveries to your notes.

Part Two:

Forced Connections is a creative thinking tool where you pair seemingly unrelated ideas to make new connections. Try it out!

Take one of the phenomena you observed, or a fun fact you discovered through your research, and use it to form a question that can help you generate ideas. For example, say a phenomenon you observed was a tree’s shadow. If you used this to inspire your brainstorming related to the question “What might be a fun theme for a party?” it could lead you to ideas like:

  • Putting on a puppet show
  • Making shadow art
  • Inviting everyone in your family tree


What Are We Discovering? 

Scientists often build ideas based on direct observations in order to explain and predict phenomena. Many inventors share the power of observation as they gather data to identify challenges and opportunities to pursue, and gaps to close. Click here to discover what NIHF Inductee Roger Angel observed through his first telescope. Many inventors engineer solutions to problems they identified through observations they made in the world, and then sought to better understand the hows and whys behind those observations, ultimately resulting in novel and useful solutions.


Recharge Your Summer

Looking for an engaging summer program for your child that embraces hands-on exploration? For over 30 years Camp Invention has continued to inspire millions of children across the country through its innovative STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programming.

Not sure if you’ll want an in-person or at-home experience for your child this summer? No problem! With our new Peace of Mind Promise, you can sign up for camp today and switch your format choice up to six weeks before camp starts.

To learn more about the fun-filled activities we have in store for children at this year’s Camp Invention, we invite you to visit our website.

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