Sparking Excitement and Inspiration with National Inventors Hall of Fame

03 Jul 2024

Military-connected Students to Attend Camp Invention in Summer 2024

More than 1,350 military-connected students and future innovators will attend Camp Invention® in Summer 2024 summer thanks to a DoD STEM partnership with the National Inventors Hall of Fame.®

Sparking Excitement and Inspiration with National Inventors Hall of Fame

The National Inventors Hall of Fame is dedicated to recognizing inventors and invention. This DoD STEM partner provides top-notch STEM educational activities for students and educators throughout the world and at its museum in Alexandria, Virginia. Founded in 1973, the Hall of Fame has recognized more than 600 engineers and inventors (going back 300 years to the present) who hold patents that have significantly advanced science or the useful arts in the United States. DoD STEM is a supporter of Camp Invention, a weeklong summer program where student discoverers are encouraged to innovate, be creative, and solve real-world problems while learning and working alongside some of the world's most creative and accomplished inventors.

DoD STEM financial support in 2024 will bring Camp Invention to about 1,350 students in 24 communities close to military installations in 10 states: Alabama, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Ohio, Texas, Virginia and Washington. This year's program also includes three virtual options and will welcome its first international participant at a DODEA site in Germany.

“Our programs introduce STEM concepts through hands-on problem solving to prepare children for an increasingly complex and unpredictable world,” said National Inventors Hall of Fame CEO Michael Oister. “Our DoD STEM partnership has greatly increased the number of military-connected students attending Camp Invention, where they will expand their innovative mindset and become better prepared to overcome tomorrow's challenges.”

Interview with Hall of Fame Director of Development Wendy Merkert

How does Camp Invention stand apart from other summer STEM camps?

Camp Invention is distinguished from other STEM camps in two ways: encouraging an “innovative mindset” is baked into everything we do as we emphasize the importance of intellectual property in the innovation and discovery process. We also expose our students to our Hall of Fame Inductees real people who have made tremendous contributions to the health, safety and security of all Americans and truly changed our world.

What specific changes have you witnessed among students before attending Camp Invention vs. afterward?

Our activities are really hands on, and many students do not have a lot of experience in this area. So, they're pretty excited after we share what will happen during the camp. Students are grouped by age and often a session starts by sharing some tools and giving them the go ahead to take something apart. You can view the latest curriculum, called Illuminate, at this link. We see their enthusiasm grow during each of the four experiences and have heard comments such as “I don't want to leave!” to “I'm so excited to come back tomorrow! Can the program run for another week?”

Parents have told us that they've seen a light turn on within their child after this program and how their interest in STEM programming and hands-on learning dramatically increased after attending Camp Invention. One child told their mom all about upcycling, which is one of the terms we use in camp when teaching kids to look at everyday household objects in different ways, plus how items can be repurposed to become something new. Such as turning a box used to deliver packages into a backpack, which will come in handy as they are traveling through space as imagined in one of the camp activities. Following are some comments from parents and students:

“Both of my children haven't stopped talking about how much fun they had at camp. They learned to create new things at home. It is amazing to see how this camp sparked creativity and passion for inventing and learning!” - A parent

“I have three children who were nervous to try something new. Every day on the car ride home watching their faces light up telling of the things they 'invented' and learned was so amazing. The last day was the best though! Each child gained something from this camp, and I can only pray they bring it back next year. Super grateful for this experience.” - A parent

Hi, I'm the participant student and being accepted in this program is a great honor. Also, thanks to the teachers I have really improved my critical thinking skills and made a lot of friends there! - A student

How can educators benefit from your organization or programs if they are not located near your physical locations?

The National Inventors Hall of Fame partners with thousands of schools and districts across the country to offer our educational programming. Whether you're looking for an in-school, afterschool or summer education program, we have the ability to customize a program that fits your school's unique needs. Plus we have a growing network of education partners nationwide; please click here to see if a program is being hosted in your community. If you do not see a site near you, please send an email to and we will be happy to discuss how we might partner with you to provide these hands-on, innovative programs to students in your school or district.

What would you like parents, students and educators to know about Camp Invention?

We are dedicated to offering Camp Invention to all students regardless of their economic situation. We are confident and proud of our programs that help students see themselves with an “inventor mindset” that will provide benefits for the rest of their lives. There are many studies that show that the earlier a child participates in STEM enrichment activities, the more likely they are to have better school attendance, improved grades, and the more likely they are to graduate from college. We know enrichment activities increase the likelihood a student will at least consider further education and possible careers in STEM.

We would invite students to attend because it's really, really fun. We'll teach you to think outside the box, literally and figuratively, and encourage you to let your mind run wild. We break down barriers at Camp Invention.

We'd like educators to check out our YouTube Channel and use it as a classroom resource.

About DoD STEM and Defense STEM Education Consortium

Defense STEM Education Consortium (DSEC) is a collaborative partnership of STEM-focused organizations dedicated to addressing and prioritizing our nation's STEM talent. DSEC aims to broaden STEM literacy and develop a diverse and agile workforce with the technical excellence to defend our nation. Through strategic investment in STEM education and outreach activities, the effort will provide students with more exposure to educational and career opportunities as well as DoD research. DSEC is led on behalf of DoD STEM by RTI International.