James E. Rogan remembers how hard it was to sit still in school, unless he was busy doing something.
When Rogan visited the campers attending Camp Invention at Stratford Landing Elementary School recently, he saw first-hand how busy and how engaged they were.
"They were a lot more interested in doing what they were doing, than talking to a middle-aged man in a suit," said Rogan, Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office.
Rogan spent the greater part of an hour visiting the various sections which comprised Camp Invention.
In the I Spy Something Fly section, he visited with second and third graders as they worked on learning how something as light as air can make things fly.
He then moved on to the Flinging Flying Festival, where the first and second graders were making flying discs.
In Maze World, he watched as some of the girls showed him how a drop of water followed their maze outline. He was most excited about the Take Apart/I Can Invent section.
"It brought the kid out in me. I wanted to get down there and work with them," said Rogan.
AS DIRECTOR OF USPTO, Rogan represents one of the co-sponsors of Camp Invention. Members of the National Inventors Hall of Fame, the other co-sponsor, were also there.
Joyce A. Ward, manager, business development and intellectual property, said that last week two inductees to the Inventors Hall of Fame visited another camp. She said that they change the modules every year so that students will get a different experience.
But even with that, they still have modules they haven't used, so they are looking into starting an after-school program, called Club Invention.
While the Inventors Hall of Fame is responsible for developing the curriculum, the USPTO provides a development and advisory aspect, as well as financial support. Ward said that during the camp, the campers complete a mock patent application. This gives them an appreciation of how a patent protects one's invention. USPTO has sponsored the camp for the past 10 years, yet, this was the first time Rogan was able to see it first-hand.
"I kept hearing about it and wanted to see for myself how the kids were engaged," said Rogan "You talk to almost any inventor and this was the age when they got engaged and the wheels started turning. Maybe it was a special teacher who made it happen. Programs like this are incalculable. Looking around, you never know how many of these kids will become scientists or inventors. It's a magnificent program, I can see by walking around, how interested the kids are in it."