When designing a new Camp Invention® curriculum each year, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) is committed to addressing the needs, interests and aspirations of all children. By prioritizing inclusion and creating supportive learning environments, the NIHF education team ensures that each camp experience is engaging and effective for children with diverse needs. Essential support from NIHF Annual Fund donors makes the goal of accessibility achievable each year.
Alaina Rutledge, vice president of education research and development at NIHF, explains, “Camp Invention is committed to providing a platform for all children to explore, make and create. Our curriculum designers have consulted with experts in the fields of neurodiversity and accessibility, and have made concerted efforts to ensure the overall program experience is accessible, supportive and allows the participation of all children.”
Building Community Through Accessibility
At the Maryland School for the Deaf, for example, children who are part of the deaf and hard of hearing community participate in the same engaging activities experienced at every Camp Invention location. Gifts from Annual Fund donors allow NIHF to provide closed captioning on all video content and supply all learning materials and step-by-step instructions for each camp activity, so schools won’t need to make extensive modifications to the curriculum.
“The students are essentially functioning in the exact same manner that they would at any other Camp Invention,” says Joseph Santini, a Camp Director interviewed by the United States Patent and Trademark Office. “They’re doing the same type of inventions and activities. The one difference here is that there are deaf children involved, and now they get to see themselves like scientists.”
Kamilla Jakubowyc, a teacher at the Maryland School for the Deaf, has been a Camp Invention Director at her school for six years and appreciates how campers are able to build important communication skills during their camp experience.
“Camp Invention provides our students with the opportunity to develop their socialization skills by encouraging them to interact with each other directly,” Jakubowyc said in an interview with NIHF. “It’s inspiring because they will return to school in September and share what they learned with the other kids.”
“I set up Camp Invention at my school to provide opportunities for our children and to help them have potential careers in STEM,” Jakubowyc said. “It’s an opportunity to learn more through fun activities instead of traditional academics.”
Because the jobs of the future likely do not yet exist, developing STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) skills is one way to prepare today’s young innovators for whatever comes next.
Research shows that children must have exposure to innovators with whom an emotional connection will resonate. Because of this, the NIHF education team makes sure to incorporate a diverse group of innovators directly into the activities campers take on each day.
According to Alex Camarota of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the Camp Invention program at Maryland School for the Deaf not only allows children to engage in science-rich activities, but it also gives them the chance to build a sense of community.
“When I was growing up, there were not as many opportunities for kids who were deaf or hard of hearing to be involved in something like this,” said Camarota. “They’re part of a community here. I didn’t have a deaf or hard of hearing community. To see deaf and hard of hearing kids have the opportunity today, it just makes me happy.”
Help More Children Access Impactful Experiences
NIHF relies on the Annual Fund for expenses like closed captioning and other accessible learning options that allow every child to join in the fun, teamwork and learning at Camp Invention. Your gift directly supports the inclusive and equitable invention education opportunities that help children reach their potential and become confident, capable innovators.
Use the link below and select “Area of Greatest Need/Annual Fund” as the program you would like to support to help make these wonderful experiences possible for more children across the country.
When you give today, you can change tomorrow.