Virtual Tour Visit

A Behind-the-Scenes Look at This Year's Camp Invention Programming

This year, the National Inventors Hall of Fame® (NIHF) has adapted and expanded Camp Invention®, bringing at-home STEM exploration to children nationwide through Camp Invention Connect™. While COVID-19 has made it difficult to see the impact of Camp Invention in person at a program near you, we invite you to join us on a “tour” of how we made real, hands-on fun possible this summer.

Bringing Camp Invention to Children Everywhere

As most in-person summer learning programs were cancelled in response to COVID-19, it became clear that, true to our mission, NIHF needed to pivot in order to create an alternative to the in-person Camp Invention program.

We began to conduct research and focus groups with educators and parents, and through these conversations, we learned that more than ever before, children needed experiences that would prepare them to overcome the achievement and social-emotional learning gaps ahead.

For the past 30 years, NIHF’s education team has developed one-of-a-kind curricula inspired by the world’s greatest innovators – NIHF Inductees. If there has ever been a time when we needed to think like innovators and quickly adapt to creatively solve problems, this was it!

We listened to feedback from parents, educators and experts to develop Camp Invention Connect – a child-led, hands-on STEM learning experience. This at-home program was designed to work with or without access to technology or the internet, ensuring all children had the opportunity to participate.

The impact of COVID-19 also led us to rethink our distribution model and reimagine the potential of our 75,000-square-foot warehouse. Traditionally, our warehouse has packaged and shipped all Camp Invention materials and curricula in bulk to our partnering schools and districts across the country. For 2020, that approach rapidly shifted.

To ensure quality hands-on STEM programming could still reach children and educators no matter where they were, NIHF transformed our warehouse model to ship individual kits directly to families’ homes, more than doubling our warehouse shipment volume. Thanks to our many partners, our 2020 program, Elevate, came to life in new and exciting ways.

Children had the opportunity to work hands on while collaborating with fellow campers. Educators who served as in-person Instructors or virtual Coaches benefitted from embedded professional development opportunities, and our post-program reporting discovered that 57% more teachers were comfortable with virtual instruction after their Camp Invention experience.

We have continued to walk our talk, innovating in collaboration with our partners to ensure all children and educators have the opportunity to learn in any setting.

Hear from the National Inventors Hall of Fame Team

Michael J. Oister, CEO, NIHF

“I am privileged to lead a company dedicated to continuous improvement. Inspired by our revolutionary Hall of Famers, icons who rejected the status quo and believed in something greater, we too believe the only limits that exist are those we place on ourselves. We remain committed to overcoming challenges, delivering unique experiences, and encouraging students and teachers to overcome obstacles like those we face today."

Britt Magneson, VP, New Business Development, NIHF

“Our district partners, with whom we’ve had a relationship for more than 10 years, found themselves in a place they had never been before due to COVID-19. We listened to our partners and responded to their needs, figuring out a way to continue to lead with learning. We have been cognizant of equity and are now able, because of direct shipping and contact with parents and children in their homes, to help as much as we can to level the playing field.”

Jayme Cellitioci, Creativity and Innovation Strategist, NIHF

“Whether a child is able to follow along with a Camp Invention Connect activity guide at home for a hands-on experience, or join a virtual session, or be part of a traditional Camp Invention site, we want to make sure they build skills like perseverance and persistence, and that they use creative problem solving in ways that will allow them to make their mark on the world in the future. We are committed every day to making sure that all children know that every child can invent.”

Hands-On Learning in Any Setting

Available either at home or in person, our 2020 program sparked excitement and inspiration as children engaged in hands-on challenges, discovered world-changing inventors, and built their confidence as creators and innovators. Here’s a little more about the modules and activities children enjoyed this summer:

Camp Invention Flight Lab

Imaginations soared as children learned about flight with paper planes, gliders, rockets, heliballs and hand-copters. They built a cityscape out of upcycled materials, navigated planes through a storm and took apart a robot they could keep at the end of the program.

Design Thinking Project

Children learned the value of their creativity as they brought their biggest ideas to life. To become successful entrepreneurs, they created sketches, built prototypes, designed logos and found out how to market their products while protecting their intellectual property.

Rescue Squad

Using teamwork and problem-solving skills, children protected the Earth’s ecosystems. Inspiring activities included competing in zipline races, exploring energy conservation, eliminating pollution and helping wildlife in habitats across the country.

Camp Invention Champions

As they discovered the great inventors behind their favorite sports, children applied their own ingenuity and design thinking. They traded inventor playing cards, created and played their own high-energy hover-ball games, and designed and built the ultimate sports complex.

What parents and educators are saying about Camp Invention

  • Rating of 5 out of 5
    “What I love about Camp Invention Connect is that children have all of the materials they need — this made all the difference. While my students could add other things to their inventions, we had a baseline where everyone could start at the same level.”
    Wendy Tibbs

    Camp Invention Connect Coach

  • Rating of 5 out of 5
    “It was an honor to facilitate student learning with such high-quality materials and lessons. I was provided everything I needed to successfully execute this online experience. The time was designed to engage students and develop innovative thinking.”
    Jennifer Scales

    Camp Invention Connect Coach

  • Rating of 5 out of 5
    “The materials were engaging and fun and at the perfect level for my child to feel confident to work independently. I am impressed with how well this program allowed my child to express her creativity! This is the happiest she has been in weeks!”
    Debbie A.

    Camp Invention Connect Parent

  • Rating of 5 out of 5
    “My daughter and son loved completing Camp Invention Connect and engaging with other children online. It was great to see the innovative mindset this experience has cultivated. Weeks later, they are still busy building and bringing their ideas to life!”
    Jennifer S.

    Camp Invention Connect Parent

National Sponsors

National Individual Donors

  • Camp Invention Parents' Donations
  • Iver and Nancy Anderson
  • Bloom Foundation, in loving memory of Leonard I. Bloom, Esq.
  • Shawn Boger
  • Harendra S. Gandhi Foundation
  • Kristina M. Johnson
  • Marshall and Annie Jones
  • David Walt and Michele May

Regional Sponsors

  • Akron Community Foundation
  • Barberton Community Foundation
  • The Belden Brick Company Charitable Trust Fund
  • Glenn R. and Alice V. Boggess Memorial Foundation
  • Bridgestone Americas Akron Trust Fund
  • Lisle M. Buckingham Endowment Fund at Akron Community Foundation
  • The Henry V. and Frances W. Christenson Foundation
  • Cleveland Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Community Foundation of Lorain County
  • The George H. Deuble Foundation
  • Albert W. and Edith V. Flowers Charitable Foundation
  • The Harry K. and Emma R. Fox Charitable Foundation
  • Greater Alliance Foundation
  • The Huntington-Akron Foundation
  • Betty V. and John M. Jacobson Foundation
  • Martha Holden Jennings Foundation
  • Charles E. Loehr Charitable Trust
  • The Lubrizol Foundation
  • The Sisler McFawn Foundation
  • The Nord Family Foundation
  • The Reinberger Foundation
  • Romich Family Fund, a component fund of the Wayne County Community Foundation
  • Lloyd L. and Louise K. Smith Foundation
  • Synthomer Foundation
  • The Thomases Family Endowment of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation
  • United Way of Summit and Medina
  • United Way of Wayne and Holmes Counties
  • The Raymond John Wean Foundation
  • The Welty Family Foundation
  • Wooster Hydrostatics
  • The Youngstown Foundation

  • American Intellectual Property Law Association
  • Community Foundation for Northern Virginia
  • George and Lissa Elliott
  • EQT Foundation
  • Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
  • Richard E. Gasser Fund of the Lehigh Valley Community Foundation
  • Richard & Caroline T. Gwathmey Memorial Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
  • IEEE - Northern Virginia Section
  • Maryland Space Business Roundtable
  • Micron Foundation
  • Northrop Grumman Foundation
  • TE Connectivity

  • American Electric Power Foundation
  • Coshocton Foundation -- Joan Hartley Gross Memorial Fund
  • Coshocton Rotary Club
  • Dow Corning Foundation
  • Ford Motor Company Fund
  • The Greater Cincinnati Foundation
  • Honda of America Mfg., Inc.
  • International Paper
  • Martha Holden Jennings Foundation
  • LG&E and KU Foundation Inc.
  • The Lindorf Family Foundation
  • McWane Ductile
  • Miami County Foundation
  • The Montgomery Foundation
  • Edwin F. Mulligan Endowed Fund
  • Oxford Community Foundation
  • Pierce Family Fund of the Coshocton Foundation
  • Pilot Company
  • The Shelby Foundation
  • Simpson Family Donor Advised Fund of the Coshocton Foundation
  • Toyota Motor Manufacturing WV
  • The Troy Foundation
  • Wiley Companies/Wiley's Finest
  • Ralph D. & Judy P. Wisenburg Fund
  • The Youth Philanthropy Committee of the Hamilton Community Foundation

  • ​​​​​​Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation
  • The Fossum Family Endowment
  • Kronos Incorporated
  • The Magnuson Center for Entrepreneurship at Dartmouth College
  • Katharine Matthies Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
  • The Frederick McDonald Trust, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee
  • NAVAIR - Lakehurst
  • Salem Five Charitable Foundation
  • Unum
  • Vanderheiden Family Foundation

  • Alliant Energy Foundation, Inc.
  • Bayer USA Foundation
  • Blueprint4SummerSTL
  • Brandon Community Foundation of the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation
  • Dow Corning Foundation
  • Duke Energy Foundation – Indiana
  • Ford Motor Company Fund
  • The Gerber Foundation
  • Hardenbergh Foundation
  • Hemlock Semiconductor Community and Regional Empowerment (Care) Fund
  • Honda Manufacturing of Indiana, LLC
  • Kohler Foundation, Inc.
  • Kosciusko County Community Foundation
  • LyondellBasell
  • R.J. McElroy Trust
  • Populous
  • Sioux Valley Energy
  • TE Connectivity
  • Vectren Foundation, Inc.
  • We Energies Foundation

  • CHS McPherson Refinery Inc.
  • The Clorox Company
  • Elizabeth H. and Stanley E. Evans Charitable Foundation
  • First National Bank of Fort Smith
  • H-E-B Tournament of Champions
  • William T. & May P. Hennessy Foundation
  • Funds have been provided by Kansas Health Foundation Children's Fund, administered by the McPherson County Community Foundation.
  • Killeen Evening Lions Club
  • OK Foods
  • ProPak Corporation
  • Rheem Manufacturing Company
  • Sam Sicard
  • Sundt Foundation
  • Time for Change Anti-Gang Coalition
  • United Way of Metropolitan Dallas
  • Walton Family Foundation
  • Weldon, Williams & Lick, Inc.

  • ABB
  • Bayer USA Foundation
  • Cape Coral Community Foundation
  • Stanley B. Farbstein Endowment Fund of the Coastal Community Foundation
  • Publix Super Markets Charities
  • The Blanche & Julian Robertson Family Foundation, Inc.
  • Salisbury-Rowan Community Foundation
  • TE Connectivity
  • Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America

  • The Boeing Company - Puget Sound
  • The Bohemian Foundation
  • Gordon Elwood Foundation
  • Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner, LLP
  • The Ford Family Foundation
  • Ford Motor Company Fund
  • Hatton GIBO Charitable Fund
  • The Longmont Community Foundation
  • Micron Foundation
  • OtterCares Foundation
  • Sandia National Laboratories
  • Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories
  • Scottsdale Unified School District Foundation
  • Sorenson Legacy Foundation
  • The Summit Foundation
  • Sundt Foundation
  • The Weld Community Foundation Littler Youth Fund
  • Western Digital Foundation
  • Wyoming Community Foundation

Support the future of innovation

Contact us to learn more about ways to impact children and educators nationwide.

Please note that the majority of photos on our website were taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.