Throughout my nearly two decades at the National Inventors Hall of Fame®, what continues to impress me is how our hands-on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programs help students overcome uncertainty and prepare them to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.
Among these, freshwater scarcity is an issue very close to my heart and one I was introduced to as a student at Colorado State University. Due to a combination of poor water management, a warming climate and a historic drought, the Colorado River, responsible for supplying fresh water to seven western states and Mexico, is drying up.
To get an idea of how serious the situation is, consider that two of the largest reservoirs on the river itself, Lake Powell and Lake Mead, in early 2023 were only around one-quarter full. Additionally, since the drought started, Colorado River water use has outstripped supply by 33.6 million acre-feet. (One acre-foot is equal to 326,000 gallons of water.)
Solving this problem and addressing the global challenges caused by water scarcity will require creativity and a mindset that promotes innovation – an I Can Invent® Mindset.
While all National Inventors Hall of Fame® education programs help develop components of this mindset, I am especially proud of the work our team of education experts has put into our summer 2024 Camp Invention® program, Illuminate.
One of the 2024 camp modules, Operation: HydroDrop™, invites children on a global adventure to explore and solve water challenges. Along the way, they’re introduced to National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductees whose contributions range from flood control technology to life-saving water-cleaning devices.
By educating children about water-based challenges across our planet, my hope is that they leave the program feeling they have the ability and agency to affect positive change in both confronting and solving these problems.
As National Inventors Hall of Fame Inductee Steve Jobs famously said in an interview with the Silicon Valley Historical Association, “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people no smarter than you, [so] shake off this erroneous notion that life is there and you’re just going to live it, versus embrace it, change it, improve it, make your mark upon it.”
Jobs’ remarks remain as timeless as ever. While we will always be faced with one uncertainty or another, I’m proud to say that the National Inventors Hall of Fame is doing our part to prepare students to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations and in turn, become the leaders of tomorrow.