FAQs for Educators

Find answers to educators’ most frequently asked questions.

NIHF develops high-quality STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) programming. We are the only organization with a direct connection to insights from world-changing inventors. We have built an Innovation Ecosystem to introduce children to the invention process early on and encourage them to continue developing a passion for innovation through their adult life. STEM education opportunities we offer include:

Founded in 1973 in partnership with the USPTO, NIHF recognizes and celebrates our nation’s greatest innovators. We use their inspiration and stories to encourage children and young adults to explore, create and invent. Our museum is located in the atrium of the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia, and is open to the public.

Yes. We design all our curricula to align with state, Common Core State Standards and Next Generation Science Standards. Additionally, each program unit has been carefully crafted to incorporate ELA and Math highlights, support social-emotional learning and provide opportunities for open-ended exploration of STEAM concepts. Please contact us at [email protected] for our program alignments to your state standards.

All NIHF’s educational programming can be customized to fit your school district’s unique implementation needs. From the number of content hours to the modules included, we can create a solution tailored to your exact requirements.

NIHF programs prepare your students to become great leaders. They provide unique STEM experiences incorporating the invaluable knowledge of our NIHF Inductees, who are great career role models for your students. Our programs will empower your students to brainstorm, collaborate and solve realistic problems. Through this process, they will learn that failure is necessary on the path to success, building confidence in their ability to overcome obstacles.

After participating in just one week of Camp Invention, research shows students benefit in significant short- and long-term gains in creativity, STEM interest, collaboration and problem solving. Additionally, participating in Camp Invention during the summer has been shown to increase students’ academic performance and engagement the following school year.

Our programs are developed by a team of education experts who have come from a variety of STEM backgrounds. All programs are designed using a combination of STEM, 21st Century Learning skills and inquiry-based learning content delivered through a combination of individual and group challenges. Our programs are tested and evaluated before being released to our educational partners. Our programs are unique in that Collegiate Inventors Competition® Finalists and NIHF Inductees are not only featured in our activities, but they also personally have a hand in creating and shaping our curricula.

As a nonprofit organization, NIHF is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of entrepreneurs. Our PreK through eighth-grade programming provides a national reach with local benefits. We connect inventors who have built the world around us with the innovators of tomorrow. Only NIHF can integrate the stories, insights and unique journeys of our Inductees into PreK through eighth-grade STEM programming designed to inspire the next generation of creators, innovators and entrepreneurs. These experiences allow participants to develop an Innovation Mindset that they can apply throughout their lives.

Yes, NIHF is a nonprofit organization. Please email us at [email protected] to receive a copy of our 501(c)(3) Determination Letter.

NIHF education programs use a scaffolded infrastructure of support to ensure our partners are prepared with the tools and information necessary to implement a positive experience for students, parents and educators.

Our programs consist of inquiry-based, hands-on curricula with step-by-step curriculum, curriculum support composed of video tutorials and all student materials.

Additionally, our regional representatives provide guidance and one-on-one coaching, and they are available to answer questions throughout the season.

Our partners also benefit from our unique manufacturing and packaging model. Our vertically integrated manufacturing process makes our programs scalable and seamless nationwide. Our distribution team manages a 60,000-square-foot facility where we ship all educational materials from, and our quality control team reviews every 10th box for defects and missing items.

NIHF partners with thousands of schools and districts across the country to offer our education programming. Whether you’re looking for an in-school, afterschool or summer education program, we have the ability to customize a program that fits your school’s unique needs.

We have a growing network of education partners nationwide; please click here to see if a program is being hosted in your community. If you do not see a site near you, please email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss how we might partner with you to provide these hands-on, innovative programs to students in your school or district.

The number of educators needed to implement a program varies by program and enrollment number.

You can become involved by supporting invention education and acting as an advocate for STEM learning in your school or district. You may also want to consider becoming an Instructor for a program near you. Serving as an Instructor is a great way to interact with your students in a new, yet familiar instructional setting. If there are no programs scheduled nearby, please reach out to us at [email protected] to find out exactly how easy it is to bring one of our engaging, hands-on programs to your school or district.

Yes. Our programs are hosted by local schools and taught by local educators. With an inquiry-based approach, each of our programs provides a unique professional development opportunity for educators. Upon completion, our Program Team Members receive a letter of recognition from the USPTO and a certificate representing continuing educations units (CEUs) based on the length of the program. Acceptance of CEUs is subject to your state or district continuing education requirements.

The length varies by program, implementation model and need.

Through our Camp Invention parent-paid tuition model, there is no cost to the host school or organization. If you are instead looking to implement our Invention Project or Club Invention programs, pricing will vary based on the length of the program and your specific use case. Every NIHF program includes all materials, resources and customer service support needed for stress-free implementation. Contact a NIHF representative for more details concerning pricing and implementation options for your school.

Many schools and districts use their federal funds to provide the program to their students. In addition, NIHF partners with corporate and nonprofit foundations, through grants, to provide funding for underserved children to participate in the Camp Invention program.

Most NIHF programs have been developed and approved for a range of ages and grade levels. Due to the inquiry-based nature of the program, the students drive their experience.

NIHF programs are implemented by local qualified educators. Our programming provides educators with hands-on, practical professional development opportunities in inquiry-based and problem-based learning models.

NIHF offers a variety of discounts and scholarship opportunities with the assistance of sponsors nationwide. On average, over half of children attending our programs benefit from scholarship assistance. Additionally, many more students take advantage of various discounts. The specific discounts or scholarships available will vary by program.

NIHF does offer a variety of discounts to help offset the cost of our programming. The specific discount codes and amounts available will vary by program.

Directors and Instructors who participate in Camp Invention and/or Club Invention receive a letter of recognition from the USPTO and a certificate representing applicable CEUs. Acceptance of CEUs is subject to your state or district continuing education requirements.

Please email us at [email protected] and we will be happy to discuss how we might partner with you to provide these hands-on, innovative programs to students in your school or district.

We’ve developed our programming with flexibility in mind to ensure our curricula and activities can be adapted for in-school, at-home and blended learning environments. Each program applies best practices to maintain engagement through hands-on challenges that inspire imagination and creative problem solving.

We are committed to making our learning experiences accessible to all students. Each NIHF program provides engaging activities and hands-on materials that guarantee equitable learning, regardless of access to an internet connection.

Yes, our cross-cutting programs incorporate a wide variety of subjects through project-based curricula. Our hands-on challenges guide students to confidently move from idea to prototype while making connections with an array of real-world issues.

NIHF provides everything you need to implement your program, including a step-by-step curriculum guide and all the materials necessary to bring the program to life for each of your students. Each of our programs also provides innovative teaching strategies and embedded educator support from start to finish.

Each of our programs is designed to ensure simple, flexible, turnkey implementation and provide curricula that are easy to follow with step-by-step guides.

We believe social-emotional learning is essential, so we design each of our programs to encourage social awareness, self-management, relationship skills, responsible decision making and self-management.

All NIHF education programs qualify for Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Migrant Education and Early Learning Challenge funding, as well as state and local district resource funding. Our education programs and professional development experiences can also be supported with CARES Act funding, ESSER funding and American Recovery Project Funding.

Camp Invention

During the Camp Invention program, your students will be introduced to world-changing inventors while working individually and collaboratively to problem solve while completing hands-on STEM challenges that inspire their imaginations!

A typical Camp Invention program is implemented over five days (usually Monday through Friday) for six and one-half hours each day, plus three to four hours of Extended Day activities to meet the needs of working families. However, Camp Invention schedules and curricula are easily modified to accommodate four-day and half-day schedules if a five-day program is not feasible. NIHF continues to produce new curricula each year, so multiple weeks of programming also are easily accommodated.

The number of Program Team Members needed to implement a program varies by program and enrollment number.

The Camp Invention program upholds a 1:8 Program Team Member-to-child ratio. Program Team Members consist of high school and/or college students, parent volunteers and certified Instructors.

Extended Day is an option for parents at most Camp Invention programs nationwide. Extended Day was developed as a solution for parents who are unable to send their children to Camp Invention due to their work schedules. Extended Day runs for 50 hours a week, typically from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Extended Day hours are led by a designated Facilitator along with extra morning and afternoon assistants. NIHF provides curricula and materials with a combination of design engineering and downtime activities to allow campers to continue their collaboration and creative thinking.

At Camp Invention, the two primary roles you can take on are Director or Instructor.

As a Director, you will serve as the liaison between NIHF and your school district. You will work to promote your program during the registration period prior to your camp week, and hire your Program Team Members and volunteers. Additionally, you will attend learning sessions, coordinate site logistics and serve as the main point of contact during the week of your program to ensure a successful experience for everyone involved.

As an Instructor, prior to the program you will assist the Camp Invention Director with their promotional efforts by distributing flyers and promotional items to students and throughout your community to build excitement. Throughout the week of your program, you will inspire and engage campers through hands-on, inquiry-based activities that are a part of the curriculum.

Additional roles include Assistant Director, a position that supports the Director, Camp Parent, a volunteer parent position, and Leaders in Training and Leadership Intern positions for students interested in developing leadership skills.

Implementing Camp Invention is an easy four-step process. 

Step 1: Contact us to discuss your school’s or district’s specific needs. We can develop a plan that is unique to you. A few factors to consider include the number of programming hours you require, if you plan to use government funding to implement the program, and if Camp Invention will represent a stand-alone experience or will be a part of a larger summer enrichment program.  

Step 2: Prepare for your program by confirming your program location and the dates when the program will run, selecting a Camp Director and group of Program Team Members (selected by the Director).  

Step 3: Promote your Camp Invention program by attending free promotional and logistics training sessions from NIHF that give you access to digital tools and resources including social media content and videos. For parent-paid programs, we open registration for your summer camp online and ship your Director a box full of fun ways to promote your program.  

Step 4: Enjoy your program by relying on your dedicated NIHF support team to provide assistance at any time. Additionally, NIHF will schedule the delivery of all your program materials and STEM curriculum to ensure a hassle-free experience.  

Nearly two decades ago, Camp Invention began formally measuring its impact. During this time, multiple independent evaluations have confirmed both the short- and long-term benefits of our Camp Invention program.

Club Invention

At Club Invention, students will come together during an afterschool program to work in teams and creatively brainstorm ways to solve everyday challenges while enhancing their understanding of STEM concepts.

Club Invention is designed to offer flexible implementation options such as once daily for a week, or once a week over a span of more than a month. However, Club Invention schedules and curricula are easily modified to accommodate eight-day schedules of one hour per session if a five-day program is not feasible. There are currently nine Club Invention modules available, so more than one program can be run throughout the course of a school year.

We primarily use a parent-paid model — meaning parents pay the tuition and there is no cost to the host school or organization. If parent funding is not an option, all our education programs also qualify for Title I, Title II, Title III, Title IV, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Migrant Education and Early Learning Challenge funding, as well as state and local district resource funding.

Instructors will inspire students by leading daily hands-on STEM activities. Club Invention Instructors will be required to facilitate approximately seven and one-half to eight hours of programming, along with a minimal amount of prep time before each program day.

Invention Project

In Invention Project, PreK-8 students have the opportunity to participate in experiences that leverage their natural inclination to create using the power of invention education. Each of the 25 unique modules includes six hours of hands-on curricula, ranging from exploring the principles of flight in Flight Lab, to reverse engineering a wireless microphone and pitching their very own invention in Open Mic.

Throughout the program participants are introduced to NIHF Inductees, giving them access to valuable STEM role models and examples of what they too can achieve if they continue to pursue an innovative life. Each experience allows students to build an Innovation Mindset, a growth mindset encompassing essential skills and traits that will benefit them throughout their lives.

As our most flexible education program, schools can choose to run Invention Project as a student-led program. This is made possible thanks to our comprehensive student resources including step-by-step activity guides, individually packaged materials and supplemental online resources.

The duration of the program is entirely customizable and determined by the needs of your school. The flexibility of Invention Project allows educators the ability to run the program for a customized length of time, led by an Instructor or student, in an in-person or remote environment.

Invention Project qualifies for all major educational funding sources including ESSER, ARP, Title I-IV, Migrant Education, Early Learning Challenge and 21st Century Community Learning Centers. Contact a NIHF representative today for assistance in identifying and applying for available resources that can help bring Invention Project to your school or district.

Invention Project is designed to provide educators with a seamless and stress-free teaching experience and includes step-by-step curriculum aligned to national and state standards, pre-and post-tests to track student progress, and curriculum supports including videos, teaching guides, a customized training program prior to implementation and dedicated support to address any problems that might arise.

Our curricula are designed so that educators of all specialties, not just STEM, can have a successful and fulfilling experience.