What Makes Camp Invention Great for Teachers?
For over 30 years, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) has partnered with tens of thousands of educators across the country to provide inspiring invention education to millions of children through Camp Invention®. It’s thanks to these educators that students experience hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) challenges that not only rekindle their joy for learning, but also introduce them to a diverse array of innovators who can inspire them to pursue a life of creativity and invention.
The educators who partner with us each year are integral to Camp Invention’s continued quality and success. With our increased stipends, easy implementation and transferable teaching strategies, many Camp Invention Instructors stay involved with the program year after year and recommend the program to their colleagues.
Read on to hear from Rachel Hunt, a past Camp Invention Instructor, who shared her thoughts on the experience.
How would you describe your overall experience teaching at Camp Invention?
I loved teaching at Camp Invention. Contrary to in the classroom, I didn’t have to pull activities out of my brain and scramble to ensure I have everything I need. The program provides the lessons, videos, materials and a great support system. They have everything so nailed down that I get to enjoy being in the moment with the kids. I have been emotionally moved by this program more times than I can count.
Were there any transferable skills that you developed while teaching Camp Invention that could be applied in the classroom during the academic year?
I always knew that children needed room to fail and experiment, but letting kids fail can be scary. As teachers, shouldn’t we hold their hands so tightly through the journey that they don’t fail? Camp Invention helped me confront that fear. The curriculum makes it easy for me to say, “Try it! Let’s see what happens.” If something doesn’t work out, I feel comfortable helping a child channel their growth mindset and curiosity so they don’t give up. I also love digging into the stories of NIHF Inductees who failed many times before they succeeded.
How easy was it to implement Camp Invention? Since your professional background is not in STEM education, did you run into any difficulties?
I’ve always had a passion for mathematics and English, but Camp Invention somehow managed to convert me into a science fanatic. (I wish my college biology professor could see me now.)
To be fully transparent, there were some topics that seemed out of my reach. How can I confidently talk to children about tardigrades when I just discovered them myself? But the provided curriculum made me sound like a tardigrade expert, and now I feel like one! Just like any new thing I try, the first time I taught camp was not perfect. How great is it that, as educators, we can model trying something new and outside our comfort zone? Camp Invention gives me room to try new things, and even if I mess up, the outcome is more than worth it.
Have you communicated with colleagues who have implemented Camp Invention?
I have! Like my reaction, my colleagues were impressed with the amount of thoughtfulness and detail packed into the curriculum and materials. Because all of the materials were conveniently labeled by session, they often raved about how easy it was to find everything their students needed to have a positive experience. The teachers I worked with also appreciated the open build time that the children were given. This crucial time provided participants with the opportunity to be hands-on and creative.
Do you have any stories or memorable moments from your Camp Invention experience?
After a long week of teaching, it was time for our final activity of the day, a chirp-off. Students were inspired by the sound of crickets and were challenged to use recyclables to make their own instruments. One little girl took that challenge and gave it her all. She made the most beautiful ukulele out of cardboard, rubber bands, tape, glue and foam.
As we were heading outside to sit in a circle and play our instruments, her rubber bands slipped, contracted and bent her whole ukulele in half. I’d be lying if I said there were no tears involved in this story. After she and I took some time to acknowledge what happened, she had to think of a fast solution.
She grabbed some chopsticks and a metal stool and headed outside. She became the drummer for our chirp-off and, tear-stained face and all, managed to have a great time. Her ability to bounce back from failure and think fast will always inspire me.
What would you say to an educator who is interested in getting involved as a Camp Invention Instructor?
Jump in with both feet and you won’t regret it! In a day where things are expected to be exact and be perfect, it is so crucial that students get the opportunity to experiment, fail and try again. Camp Invention provides a safe and FUN environment for that to happen. Learning becomes new and exciting, innovation seems possible and failure is seen as the stepping stone toward success. I grew immensely as an educator, and if you give this a shot, I know you will too.
Learn More About the Benefits of Camp Invention Today!
Educators who sign up to teach Camp Invention receive a variety of benefits including:
- Increased stipends for 2023 available through direct deposit
- Two free Camp Invention registrations*
- CEUs (Acceptance of CEUs is based on state and local guidelines)
- Engaging, easy-to-implement curriculum
- Transferrable teaching strategies
- Personal thank-you letter from the United States Patent and Trademark Office
- Exceptional support from NIHF Regional Representatives
Visit our website to learn more about how you can help empower children this summer and explore how NIHF makes Camp Invention fun for teachers and students alike!
*Free registration benefit does not include any fees required by the program site.