A summer camp for kids who like to tinker.
That’s one way to sum up Camp Invention, a nonprofit summer enrichment program for kindergarten-through-sixth-graders that incorporates hands-on activities to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning.
A partnership between the National Inventors Hall of Fame and the US Patent and Trademark Office, the camps are held each year around the country, including in New York and Connecticut.
Though the activities are meant to be educational, that doesn’t mean they’re boring.
“Children will discover real space exploration technology when they create Spacepacks and Astro-Arm devices, mine an asteroid, and observe erupting ice volcanoes,” reads its website.
“Campers will experiment with the fun of physics, engineering and gaming as they design, build and test their own mega marble arcades.”
Last year’s curriculum had kids bring in old electronics and then build something new out of the parts. Some kids made jewelry.
Joanmarie DeVries, a second-year director at a Camp Invention in Congers in Rockland County, said beyond promoting STEM learning, the camps also teach kids leadership skills and help build their confidence.
“Once they realize, ‘Hey, I’m given this task and it might be difficult, but you know, I come up with ways to resolve it or to build this invention that I’m asked to do,’ they’re just so proud of themselves,” DeVries said.
And kids keep coming back. Of the 22 participants signed up for this year’s camp in Congers, more than half are returning from previous years, DeVries said.
She attributes the draw to the lasting friendships many campers make along the way.
“It really gives them a chance to build relationships, be creative, create a multitude of inventions, some they do individual, and some they create together,” DeVries said.
Advocates say introducing kids to STEM curriculum at a younger age could bode well for future career prospects.
STEM-related jobs are projected to grow by 8% over the next seven years, compared with 3.7% for all occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Most Camp Invention programs run one week long, but many locations offer two-week programs with different curriculum each week.
Nearly 130,000 students take part in the programs each year, according to organizers.
Learn more about Camp Invention and find a camp near you on its website.
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