Lemelson Grant Awarded for Mobile Invention Camps

CORVALLIS, Ore. – This summer youth in rural Oregon will put their  creativity to work solving real life problems, thanks to a new partnership between Oregon State University and the Lemelson Foundation.

A Lemelson Foundation grant will allow the university to develop and launch Mobile Invention Camps for middle school and high school students. Participants will study problems relevant to the economy of their own community and use engineering principles to come up with solutions.

Hands-on activities will enable students to construct and test a prototype invention, with the goal of developing a product that could be commercialized.

Ultimately, the camps aim to motivate rural Oregon students to pursue higher education to gain the skills necessary to be effective inventors, entrepreneurs and agents of global change.

Mobile Invention Camps will be modeled on the successful Mobile Science and Engineering Camps that OSU has offered since 2009. Originally funded by the Engineering and Technology Industry Council, the camps use hands-on activities centered on sustainable energy to increase student confidence and interest in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).  Since inception the camps have served more than 1,000 rural, low-income and minority Oregon students.

The new program aims to create modular invention-based activities that can be adapted to middle and high school levels, thus broadening the camps’ impact. Curriculum will be co-developed with faculty and students from OSU’s humanitarian engineering program. This emerging field emphasizes science and engineering-based solutions that help to improve the human condition, increase access to basic human needs, enhance quality of life and strengthen community resilience.

“Mobile Invention Camps will be a great opportunity to engage rural students in a real-world, problem-solving experience that incorporates community assessment, environmental sustainability, creative invention design and prototyping and development of an entrepreneurial commercialization plan,” said Kyle Cole, OSU Director of Pre-College Programs. “It will also help inspire rural Oregon students to pursue higher education, especially in fields related to invention and entrepreneurship, and help them understand how to prepare and pay for college.”

Starting this July, six to eight week-long Mobile Invention Camps will take place in rural Oregon communities, engaging up to 30 students in each location.

Established by prolific U.S. inventor Jerome Lemelson and his wife, Dorothy, in 1992, and led by the Lemelson family, the Lemelson Foundation uses the power of invention to improve lives. It seeks to inspire and enable the next generation of inventors and invention-based enterprises to promote economic growth in the U.S., and social and economic progress for the poor in developing countries.