YIP Joins UNH Leitzel Center

Young Inventors’ Program Joins the Leitzel Center at the University of New Hampshire

The Young Inventors’ Program (YIP) and the University of New Hampshire are excited to announce a new collaboration that will increase resources and strengthen opportunities for K-12 students in the subject areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

A 35-year-old, project-based STEM education program, YIP began at the Academy of Applied Science in Concord as a vision and passion of founder Dr. Robert H. Rines, an inventor, entrepreneur and attorney. YIP was developed to encourage students in early grades to explore STEM principles and apply their learning to real-world problems. It has evolved to meet education standards, including the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), while reinforcing 21st century skills including decision-making, problem-solving and communications.

By joining the state’s flagship research university (categorized as R1 by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education), YIP will benefit from the direct-service STEM programs for K-12 students housed at UNH’s Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education.

Leitzel Center Welcome

The Leitzel Center works to transform education in mathematics, science and engineering in elementary and secondary schools, and in non-formal settings through high quality research, carefully examined practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The Center works together with partners at UNH and beyond to strengthen engagement in New Hampshire, New England, across the nation and internationally.

“We can’t wait to integrate the Young Inventors’ Program into our portfolio of STEM partnership opportunities we develop collaboratively with external partners. The Young Inventors’ Program affords much-needed opportunities for students to develop their creativity, communication and problem-solving skills through projects they themselves direct,” noted Julie Bryce, interim director of the Leitzel Center and professor of geochemistry in the College of Engineering and Physical Sciences.

Youth also currently engage in STEM programming with the university through UNH Cooperative Extension, UNH Tech Camp, New Hampshire 4-H and Project SMART.

“We welcome young inventors to our STEM learning community and are proud to carry on the tradition of supporting youth innovation,” said UNH Vice Provost of Outreach and Engagement and Director UNH Cooperative Extension Ken La Valley. “The Young Inventors’ Program matches our interdisciplinary approach to education and our collaborative of network programs. We are excited about the possibilities of enhancing and expanding STEM learning opportunities for students across the region.”

YIP’s Evolution

The Young Inventors’ Program fuels excitement for innovation and creates lasting memories for schoolchildren. “What makes YIP different is that it is student-centered; kids pick the problem they want to solve, apply their learning to develop prototypes and present their inventions and their discovery journey,” said YIP Director Tina White. “When YIP is incorporated into lessons, all students, including those who may not otherwise be selected to, or choose to, participate in STEM are able to benefit from activities that focus on creative thinking, resiliency through failure and communications skill building. We have seen students in the third and fourth grades discover a passion for topics like engineering that opens an entirely new world to discover and hopefully a path to an innovative career.”

To respond to the ever-changing and uncertain 2020-2021 school year, the YIP team worked with their veteran teachers to create a variety of options for educators to present the program. “We saw that enrichment programs and STEM activities may fall off of learning plans as schools and programs make difficult choices to keep students and communities safe,” said White. “We all agree that STEM opportunities should be available as we navigate pandemic protocols.” To this end, YIP now has tracks for teachers to present the modules in classrooms, tracks with lessons presented by YIP staff to supplement their remote lessons and a track for students to follow the program independently.

In addition to curriculum, support and guidance from YIP staff, and access to STEMinars for teachers and students, programs receive materials to host a local Invention Fair all at no cost. Independent students participating in YIP will compete in a fair hosted online this winter. Winning students then progress to the Northern New England Invention Convention presented by YIP, which is a qualifying event for Invention Convention U.S. Nationals and Invention Convention Worldwide.

“Presenting inventions and explaining their process are essential elements of science and technology development as well as important life skills,” said White. “We find that even our youngest students – five-year-olds – light up when they speak about their ideas and the problems they chose to solve to make the world a better place.”

It is this love of learning that carries on the work of Dr. Robert H. Rines. “We have fueled the creativity and ingenuity of three generations of students,” said Academy of Applied Science Board President Joanne Hayes-Rines. “We look forward to the sustainability and resources that this new partnership will bring to future innovators.”

To learn more about bringing YIP to your school, community or home, please explore our website.

About Academy of Applied Science

The Academy is a nationally recognized educational resource center offering enrichment programs for students and professional development for teachers and educational administrators. Their mission to “fuel the spark of genius” by engaging today’s youth in STEM through opportunities to apply scientific knowledge to research and innovation. The Academy honors learners of all ages and strives to encourage inventive thinking, productive research, and talent development in STEM disciplines.

The Young Inventors’ Program® (YIP) was developed by the Academy of Applied Science to encourage and support young students to explore STEM disciplines. Now reaching into New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont, nearly 5,000 youth will participate locally at schools, libraries, clubs, after-school, and home school programs. For more information, visit: www.fuelthespark.org.

About the Leitzel Center at The University of New Hampshire

The Joan and James Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education at UNH works to transform education in mathematics, science, and engineering in elementary and secondary schools and in non-formal settings through high quality research, carefully examined practice, and interdisciplinary collaboration. The Leitzel Center facilitates partnerships and initiates programs with the goal of developing educators’ knowledge of science, mathematics, and engineering concepts, along with human learning strategies—developing learners who experience the joy of discovery and the challenge of understanding; providing learning environments that support active engagement. Learn more at www.unh.edu/leitzel-center.