Reaching for Joy
If you have checked in on the dashboards of many educators and administrators over the past 10 months, you have likely seen several emergency buttons lit up. While the types of emergencies might have changed from the beginning of the pandemic, as solutions have been identified and employed, emerging data continues to reveal key areas of concern.
Through the uncertainty of this past year’s learning and education journey, one thing has sometimes felt out of reach: joy.
While the phrase “the joy of learning” might have varying associations, its essence has a universal interpretation — the levity that comes along with making new discoveries and building new skills. It’s this same rich connection between joy and learning that is fundamental to the success of Camp Invention® and other in-person and at-home programs from the National Inventors Hall of Fame®(NIHF).
The Joy of Learning in Action
As thousands of children have employed the Camp Invention Design Thinking Process™ to generate ideas and transform their 2D sketches into 3D prototypes, we have observed how the invention process helps build children’s agency and sense of control during a time of extreme uncertainty.
From sketching virus-fighting robots to prototyping new types of biomedical devices, children in Camp Invention have found hope while making and problem solving. This sense of hope is connected to their confidence as inventors and innovators who can affect change.
So, how do we further cultivate hope and joy through learning in the present circumstances? According to Jayme Cellitioci, NIHF creativity and innovation strategist, “Overburdened educators and administrators do not need one more agenda item — whether tactical or lofty — to pursue. There is only space for ideas or methods that help achieve goals, meet the needs of our children and turn off some of those emergency lights on the dashboard. Joy finding must be an organic result of this authentic pursuit.”
At a time when we might feel like we are simply striving to maintain our baseline, we must remind ourselves that reaching for the stars might be exactly what is needed to feel the ground beneath us and to help us and our children remember our place in the universe.
Bringing Back the Joy of Learning
NIHF Inductees are exemplary role models who have continuously shown us the power of looking up, looking out, looking within and looking forward. We have harnessed the key tenets of their approach to innovation in the Innovation Mindset and use these insights as the foundation for creating all our education programs.
The experience of implementing and leading our programs has helped educators and administrators across the country bring back the joy of learning, cultivate hope and inspire the next generation of STEM innovators. We see the tangible proof of the need for STEM and innovation to help our global community navigate its way through a pandemic. This direct proof creates an energy and urgency for helping the leaders of tomorrow improve their STEM and Innovation skills today.
Right now, we are in a critical window to help our learners, who are continuously drawing conclusions about their long-term relationship with learning, find hope and joy in the process. We must help them place in context the challenges they are facing, from the impacts of technical roadblocks to social-emotional needs that might not be getting met. We must flex, modify and accommodate for the circumstances of the moment.
The Importance of Play
Play is even more essential during challenging times. Its importance is well known for children, and it is increasingly being understood as having value for adults as well.
Our children need to have their natural senses of curiosity and playfulness piqued and their intrinsic motivation leveraged. NIHF Inductee Jaap Haartsen, inventor of Bluetooth® wireless technology, promotes the fact that play is important for inventing, as it stimulates the brain.
When a child is excited to create something, they are more likely to pursue learning the skills they need to build it. When they want their prototype to light up or their accessories to move or spin, they will pursue the STEM learning and discoveries that are needed to bring their device to the next level.
As we consider concepts like COVID-19 slide, rather than focusing primarily on the content that needs to be covered, let us ensure that our children develop and maintain a positive relationship with learning, which will seed the joy that sets them up to become successful lifelong learners. This summer, let NIHF help you and the children you serve to discover the joy that comes with truly authentic invention education.
Learn More About Camp Invention
For more than three decades, our Camp Invention program has inspired millions of students across the country to learn and apply the skills of an inventor. To explore this year’s brand-new program, Recharge, and learn how to bring this experience to your district, we invite you to visit our website.