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Youth Innovation Camp 2016 brought together 56 young minds, library staff members, guest speakers and facilitators from varied fields to celebrate learning by doing, build a maker mindset, and think creatively about viable business models.

Many parents and educators agree that there is a surpassing need for informal educational programs that promote learning in science, technology, engineering, arts & design and math (STEAM). There is also high demand for spaces that offer people opportunities to experience learning in innovative, modern ways. Having these needs in mind, the camp`s narrative revolved around the themes of coding, prototyping, and creativity, and campers were immersed in the makerspace collaborative environment to learn about the possibilities, tools, and technologies available.

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The first day started with campers getting inspired by President Obama`s speeches about coding, by Leonardo Da Vinci and his prolific approach to making and inventing, and by Michelle Obama`s and her talks on eco-literacy. We had a maker showcase, during which, students made something with their own hands and were very excited about having access to hot glue guns, scissors, motors, LED lights, soldering iron, 3D printers, and a plotter machine. The second activity was also a big hit among campers. With high-quality Smithsonian material, they learned about Rube Goldberg machines and had a blast grasping varied concepts in a very supporting atmosphere.

On the second day our guest speaker – a local young entrepreneur who devotes his time to working with assistive technologies for people with disabilities – wowed campers with his latest project, meviro.org.  Campers were challenged to work on product design, prototype, slogans and pitches. Later, they drew logos to have them printed out in the 3D printers.

The chef Diego Rhoger impressed campers with his experiments in the kitchen. Kids learned how to handle knives like chefs and turned healthy ingredients into surprising dishes by using basic concepts of molecular gastronomy. Right after this yummy day, campers went back to work on their products` visual identities and marketing strategies, getting ready to sell their ideas. Youth Innovation Camp is becoming a reference for creative minds willing to engage in meaningful, relevant, informal learning opportunities.

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