Camp Invention turns curious students into innovative thinkers

A small robot with an optical sensor follows a black line at Camp Invention last summer.

The Camp Invention STEM Summer Camp continues to grow and director Lisa Rudstrom loves the fact it teaches students about entrepreneurship, the patent process and discovery.

The camp that turns curious students in grades 1-6 into innovative thinkers fills a niche they don’t get in their traditional classrooms.

Why is innovation such an important topic at the camp focusing on science, technology, engineering and math?

“Our country was founded on that and we have lost that in some ways,’’ Rudstrom said. “It would be nice to see it expand even more’’ into the high school and college level.

Exploring the patent process is just as important, she said, because people have lost that creative spirit.

“Anyone can invent something and improve the lives of people and society.’’ That is something lost to this generation that is dependent on finding a job or working somewhere else, according to Rudstrom.

“Anybody can come up with an idea and patent it. It’s not hard to do. It starts with our young people.’’ With that in mind, you can then create your own business and jobs, she added.

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Camp Invention, a program of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, is coming to three sites across northern Minnesota during the months of June, July, and August. Camp Invention is sponsored locally by the Range Engineering Council.

From June to August, Iron Range Engineering in Virginia, Itasca Community College Engineering, and Hibbing Community College will be hosting the week long Camp Invention Supercharged program day camps.

The Camp Invention 2019 dates and locations are as follows:

• Hibbing Community College: June 24-28.

• Itasca Community College Engineering: July 22-26.

• Iron Range Engineering in Virginia: Aug. 5-9.

Programs are limited to 70 participants and are filling up quickly! Camp Invention is open to kids in grades 1-6 during the 2019-2010 school year. Thanks to funding provided by REC, the local programs have a reduced registration fee of $175 (normal registration is $210.00). Need based scholarships are still available for the ICC location. Sign up today by calling 1-800-968-4332. Please contact Lisa Rudstrom at lrudstrom@vmps.org for more information, and visit the Camp Invention website (https://www.invent.org/programs/camp-invention).

Camp Invention is staffed by local teachers and high school students who earn 40 volunteer hours from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Over the past three summers 250 local kids have participated in REC’s Camp Invention summer programming.

“It’s a great program,’’ which is now in its fourth year, Rudstrom said. Camp Invention has continued to grow and the Itasca portion in Grand Rapids was added for the first time this year.

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The new summer 2019 program has plenty to offer.

“Kids will explore the electrifying relationship between frequency, circuitry, motors and gears through reverse-engineering and rebuilding their very own remote-controlled robot. They will unearth hidden fossils then building ships and innovative equipment to embark on a research expedition to uncover more exciting information about their discovery. They will code and program a robot, Bot-ANN-E, to take on duties and help turn a polluted wasteland into a fruitful farm and successful business. Lastly, kids will collaborate with the Innovation Force, a team of National Inventor Hall of Fame Inventors turned action-packed superheroes, to design superhero gadgets and disguises, explore the fields of engineering and fabrication and take on the sinister villain, the Plagiarizer,’’ a Camp Invention news release states.

Speaking of the volunteer hours provided by 11th- and 12th-grade students (and some 10th-graders), Rudstrom said that is a big seller. “Once they sign up they are genuinely surprised that it’s fun.’’

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