This is part of a sponsored content series as part of my role as the exclusive 2014 Collegiate Inventors Competition Ambassador.
Earlier in the week when I attended the Collegiate Inventors Competition, I asked some of the 14 finalists what inspired them to invent. While all were attempting to find better solutions to existing problems, everyone had the desire to make improvements through tinkering.
Tinkering. When you Google the definition of tinkering, this comes up:
Notice it says “Attempt to repair or improve something in a casual or desultory way, often to no useful effect.”
Any inventor tinkers and tinkering is what George Korir, a graduate finalist from Stanford University, said was the source of his inspiration. George is a graduate-level finalist for the Collegiate Inventors Competition whose music-box like crank and punch card device aims to diagnose global health care problems quickly and easily by providing a portable solution for community health workers in countries around the world.
As a child growing up in Kenya, George said his parents didn’t buy him toys. Instead, he used what was around him. To this day, he said he goes into a room to see what he can find rather than buying new materials all the time. George admits to keeping a “pile of crap” and while this may promote hoarding tendencies, it reminded me that one should never underestimate the usefulness of objects that may seem destined for the trash.
In our own house, a favorite past time of our kids is to take apart broken electronics to see what’s inside. Our 8 year old has two desk drawers filled with keys plucked off a old keyboards, shiny metal discs from inside hard drives, and green computer memory cards. While they may seem like junk, they’re endlessly fascinating because of the potential they hold to become something. Giving kids access to materials is a way to challenge kids to think about the future through invention.
About Camp Invention: “Where big ideas become the next big thing”
Since the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF) Inductees and the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recognize that curiosity and creativity can often incorporate science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learning through the invention process, they aim to inspire America’s next generation of inventors through Camp Invention.
With the motto, “Where big ideas become the next big thing,” Camp Invention is the nation’s premier summer enrichment day camp that focuses on STEM and encourages creativity and curiosity for kids in grades 1-6. Camp Invention encourages kids to have fun and think creatively while also preventing the dreaded summer slide, a term used to describe the loss of students’ academic skills and knowledge during the summer.
Last year Camp Invention held more than 1,200 camps that inspired nearly 80,000 children in grades 1-6. The Morphed! program immersed elementary ages in hands-on learning activities that included building original prototypes, creating a personalized motor-powered vehicle, taking apart electronics to construct an insect-themed pinball machine. With each lesson exploring connections between science, technology, engineering, math, and innovation, kids are challenged to use problem-solving skills and creativity for a new kind of learning during the summer.
Find a Camp Invention in your area
With various locations around the country, chances are high that there is a Camp Invention nearby. Since many families start thinking about summer camp in January, it’s a great time to start thinking about summer plans for your children that will ignite their future through Camp Invention.
Camp Invention registration opens December 1 and it’s a great time to take a look to see what might be offered in your area. To find a Camp Invention near you, visit their website and click on the green Parents tab to register your child or find a camp near you. If you can’t find something, know that new locations are being added daily so be sure to check back later! When I searched for locations in the DC area, only 2 came up but I’m going to keep checking the site for camp opportunities for my kids!
If you would like to bring the Camp, Club, or Invention Project Program to a location near you, you can contact them at 800-968-4332 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on inspiring young innovators through Camp Invention,
- Visit the Camp Invention website
- Follow @CampInvention and @InventorsHOF on Twitter
- Like Camp Invention on Facebook
- Take a look at some of the cool things kids in grades 1-6 did last year via the Camp Invention YouTube page
Although I was compensated for my involvement as an ambassador, all opinions are my own.