Camp Invention prepares tomorrow’s innovators
By Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the USPTO Andrei Iancu
Director Iancu meets Camp Invention students in Hyattsville, Maryland, as they work on their innovation force module (photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
For the United States to maintain our leadership role in key science and technology areas, we must harness the concerted efforts of industry, academia, and government to empower the next generation. The USPTO plays a critical role as we work to equip tomorrow’s inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs with the skills they need to succeed.
On June 26, I had the opportunity to visit Camp Invention in Hyattsville, Maryland. I was joined by Al Langer, inventor of the first automatic implantable cardioverter defibrillator.
Camp Invention, an annual summer program hosted by the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), in partnership with the USPTO, turns curious kindergarten through sixth grade students into innovative thinkers. Located in all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico, there are over 1,800 schools participating in NIHF’s educational programs nationwide. Inspired by National Inventors Hall of Fame inductees, this program delivers a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) and intellectual property based program to 160,000 students annually, taught by 13,000 local, certified teachers and 9,000 high-school and college-aged interns.
The students at Camp Invention in Hyattsville, Maryland, like more than 50,000 students nationwide, receive scholarships to attend NIHF’s education programs. Scholarships allow underrepresented students to learn the 21st century skills to prepare them for the future.
The theme of this year’s Camp Invention curriculum is “Supercharged,” and features four modules that incorporate concepts of inventing with activities on superheroes, sea adventures, farm tech, and robots. Dr. Langer and I met and spoke with students working on all four modules.
Inventor Al Langer assists students with their deep sea mystery module at Camp Invention in Hyattsville, Maryland (photo by Jay Premack/USPTO)
One week of Camp Invention is comprised of programming that presents children with real-world, hands-on challenges that emphasize STEM proficiencies, creative problem solving, collaboration, and entrepreneurship through innovation. Participants are led through the process of invention, learning that failure is a necessary point on the path to success. Teachers are provided with new ways to incorporate STEM skills into their classrooms, and each year Camp Invention introduces a new, cutting-edge curriculum to ensure that the program continues to be an engaging and memorable experience for everyone involved.
At the USPTO, we recognize that the next generation needs to gain a strong understanding of intellectual property and problem solving. Programs like Camp Invention introduce young people to important STEM and IP skills in a fun environment, and help build a robust pipeline of talent, ready to meet the expanding needs of a highly technical workforce. These future inventors, innovators, and entrepreneurs will play a crucial role in helping the U.S. compete and succeed in a global economy.