When 2022 began, the optimism many school district administrators once had for a more normal academic year was hampered by the challenges of a new variant and an associated uptick in COVID-19 infections across the country. In addition to health and safety risks for school communities, this surge brings a logistical nightmare for school leaders seeking to provide the best possible education for their students.
Describing those times can be difficult, but when I try, I’m reminded of an acronym often used in the business world: VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity). These words accurately represent environments that at first appear out of our control.
The National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) experienced its own VUCA moments throughout the past few years and in 2020, when the first waves of COVID-19 began spreading nationwide. We realized we needed to transform our flagship in-person STEM experience, Camp Invention®, to better serve the needs of parents who wanted a virtual summer camp experience for their children. Our organization developed an innovative at-home solution known as Camp Invention Connect®, which provided students with all the materials needed for a full week of camp, individually packaged, and sent to homes across the country to allow educators the ability to guide hands-on activities virtually.
Last year, we reinvented ourselves once again by transforming our Camp Invention program into a customized solution to fit the unique needs of school districts’ summer recovery efforts. Understanding that students needed hands-on collaborative experiences that embrace social-emotional learning (SEL), we developed curricula that foster these experiences in any learning environment.
The success of these programs was the result of companywide efforts. Team members from all our departments came together to help pack materials in our state-of-the-art warehouse, volunteered to work on the weekends and developed innovative solutions that continue to benefit our education partners, with their customized program needs, and their students today.
During this unique time in our history, when the weight of VUCA can cause fear-induced inaction, NIHF believes the solution for both students and teachers is to embrace the type of learning perfectly equipped to give children the confidence to navigate ambiguity by embracing invention education.
Our organization’s own response to VUCA and subsequent development of novel invention education solutions gave us the flexibility to develop a variety of STEM Kits that qualify for ESSER funding and can adapt to your district’s unique needs to provide three solutions in one:
- Give your teachers a break
Use our STEM Kits to provide your teachers with additional planning time during the school day. Each self-contained package includes everything students need for fun and academically enriching experiences.
- Provide virtual, hands-on STEM learning
As part of your district’s hybrid or virtual learning strategy, use our STEM Kits to offer engaging, hands-on STEM exploration at home. Educators are given step-by-step instructions and interactive resources to ensure success.
- Offer a quality, self-led curriculum
Prepare for unexpected building closures by sending our STEM Kits home for students to work on independently. These kits also can be distributed to children during the summer months to help close learning gaps.
No longer can we afford to be reactionary when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, much like the NIHF Inductees our organization has the privilege of honoring, we must all adopt an Innovation Mindset™ and take bold, creative action to ensure our students and teachers are equipped to navigate the unknown.
I invite you to contact us today to learn more about how NIHF can provide a customized education solution to support your schools today.