CHARLOTTE--Schools districts across North Carolina are using invention to prepare students for the 21st century workforce.
Leaders say inquiry-based learning and hands-on activities are keeping kids' skills sharp over the summer break.
“Camp Invention” is a week-long summer enrichment program offered to first through sixth graders all over the country.
Camp Director Betsey Hansen says Camp Invention prepares middle schoolers for the 21st century workforce.
“It is a chance for kids to think critically and creatively and become inventors,” said Hansen.
The program takes a cross-curriculum approach to science education, integrating stem-based activities with subjects like history, music and art.
“Problem based learning is an important initiative in education right now and the Camp Invention program is actually based in project and problem based learning,” said Hansen.
Fifth grader Devin Gee already knows he wants to be an engineer when he grows up.
He likes the challenge at Camp Invention.
“I took apart a cable box I didn't know how it was set up with all the circuit boards and everything. I just learned a lot that I didn't know,” said Gee.
The Charlotte-Mecklenburg School district says the stem initiative is working.
District leaders report the growth of the camp in CMS since the 2007-2008 school year parallels the rise in test scores.
The 5th grade science end of grade test scores rose from 40 percent in 2008 to 73 percent in 2011.
Camp Invention is also affecting the way teachers practice in the classroom.
“Teachers take these methods and ideas they're learning back to the classroom and incorporate that into their everyday classroom experience. We're not the sage on the stage, we're the guide on the side,” said Hansen.
Hansen says when teachers take on the role of classroom consultant, students begin to think critically on their own.