For the 16th year, Fremont kids will have the opportunity try their hands at being inventors.
From June 3 to 7, Clarmar Elementary School will host Camp Invention, a program sponsored by the National Inventors Hall of Fame that uses hands-on lessons and activities to promote STEM, or Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics learning.
The program offers all sorts of hands-on activities that allow children to engage with technology and get creative. Over the years, activities have ranged from letting kids make their own inventions out of duct tape — like a purse or a phone case — to creating their own planet and alien life forms. Other activities include getting the opportunity to use robots to carry out various tasks.
“It’s a good program for kids because a lot of times while they’re in school, they’re learning the curriculum that we need to teach, but they don’t get the opportunity as often as maybe we would like them to be able to use their imagination and kind of think outside of the box,” said April Robertson, the camp director for the program here at Clarmar.
This year’s event will feature some new activities, including one module with a focus on agriculture, according to a press release provided to the Tribune by Laura Leibman, Regional Program Manager for Camp Invention.
The “Farm Tech” program will have children managing their own farm, learning the basics of running a business and using a programmable robot named “bot-ANN-E” (like “botany”).
Campers will learn how to use the robot to help cultivate their land, maximize their time and profits and to perform mock DNA experiments to check the health of their cattle, according to the press release.
Another module is called “Innovation Force,” Leibman said. In that program, children are turned into superheroes who must stop the evil Plagiarizer, who’s intent on stealing the world’s ideas. As the children design a device to save the day, they learn the importance of collaboration and patents along the way.
Other modules have kids inventing underwater equipment and controlling robots to navigate tasks.
“Because I have two children of my own who have gone through Camp invention the last two years, I can definitely say this is not your standard STEM camp,” Leibman said. “As a non profit organization, we truly focus on helping children grow, not only in these subjects, but also in confidence and perseverance and developing what teachers know as 21st century skills: so collaboration and creativity, to not only help them in STEM careers but in life.”
Additionally, Leibman added that the program meets both national Next Generation Science Standards and state standards for science education.
“They’re not just having fun, they’re actually getting a true education behind what they’re doing,” she said.
The nationwide camp aims to carry out the mission statement of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, which is to “recognize inventors and invention, promote creativity and advance the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
The program has been around for 29 years.
The curriculum for the camp changes every year, featuring new modules inspired by the inventions and stories of real-life inventors inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Leibman said. Some of the “Farm Tech” module, for instance, was inspired by 2018 inductee Jacqueline Quinn, a NASA Environmental engineer whose “Emulsified Zero-Valent Iron” which is used to help clean contaminated groundwater.
According to Leibman, the “bot-ANN-E” robot used in the module was inspired by another Hall of Fame inductee: John Deere.
For Robertson, a fourth grade teacher at Bell Field Elementary, the program is exciting because it allows kids the opportunity to keep their minds fresh over the summers, while also allowing them to experiment in new ways.
“That’s what camp invention is about is using their minds in ways that maybe they don’t get to use them every day,” she said.
This year’s Camp Invention takes place from June 3 to June 7, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. each day at Clarmar Elementary School. It’s $230 to register. Registration is done on a first-come, first-served basis. Register at www.invent.org/camp.