Student in a Camp Invention virtual class

NAWCAD Lakehurst supports virtual STEM experience for underprivileged students. (Photo Courtesy of Camp Invention)

NAWCAD Lakehurst supports virtual STEM camp

Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Lakehurst provided grant funding for and participated in a virtual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) camp experience for 197 underserved students in New Jersey's Atlantic City, Lakewood, Lakehurst and Toms River townships, in order to encourage their interest in STEM fields. 

NAWCAD Lakehurst provided more than $34,000 in grants to the annual Camp Invention experience, part of a nation-wide program created by the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF).

“NAWCAD Lakehurst supports educational outreach programs that encourage students to become involved in STEM in order to inspire them to pursue careers in STEM-related fields,” said Kathleen Donnelly, NAWCAD Lakehurst executive director. “By offering this immersive experience to underserved students, we open up a world of possibilities for their future endeavors.”

The Camp Invention experience uses creative teaching practices to foster innovation by bringing enrichment into classrooms and helping teachers give children the opportunity to apply classroom learning through a practical, hands-on approach.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NIHF modified their mission to develop an at-home Camp Invention program, which provides a virtual hybrid of on- and off-screen activities.

“Adaptations were made to ensure that all children could participate in STEM learning in 2020,” said Haidy Oliveira, NAWCAD Lakehurst education outreach coordinator. “By shipping materials to the students’ homes and providing virtual instructors, the camp was still able to provide hands-on learning which incorporated history, arts, entrepreneurship, collaboration and teamwork—learning skills essential to success in the global workforce of the 21st century.”

In addition to providing funding, NAWCAD Lakehurst coordinated with the summer camp and local schools, participated in virtual camp activities and provided engineers to speak with the students at the end of camp.

 “We like to bring engineers from backgrounds that are traditionally underrepresented in STEM,” Oliveira said. “By hearing from women engineers, Black engineers and Hispanic engineers, the students can relate to the speakers and be inspired by STEM role models who are just like them.”

During the discussion, the engineers spoke on their current work responsibilities and what originally inspired them to pursue engineering.

“We are so excited about the impact that this partnership has had on underserved children,” Oliveira said. “NAWCAD Lakehurst will always be on the lookout for more opportunities that will provide students with hands-on experiences in these STEM fields and encourage young minds to develop their creativity and problem-solving skills.”

NAWCAD Lakehurst will facilitate the Camp Invention virtual experience again in summer of 2021.


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