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Walnut students mugging for camera
Walnut Street Elementary School students mug for the camera, by an old telephone, at the AT&T Labs and Innovation Museum in Middletown June 5.

 AT&T Labs and Innovation Museum in Middletown photo 2
Kleiner and Doctor Victor Lawrence

Dr. Victor Lawrence and Benjamin Kleiner

Inventors Museum photo 3 on side

June 7, 2023-- Fifth-grade students from Walnut Street Elementary School were recently given a chance to discover all the ways that curiosity can be their superpower.

This past Monday, these students traveled to the AT&T Labs and Innovation Museum in Middletown, where they participated in hands-on activities that explored the processes of design, prototyping, reverse engineering, and even patenting their inventions.

The field trip and site visit utilized curriculum from Camp Invention-- the district's STEM-based summer program-- called Open Mic to learn about the modern day microphone invented by National Inventors Hall of Fame member James West.

"This experience was designed to open students’ eyes to the inventing process and expose them to potential future careers in STEM fields," said Walnut Street teacher Benjamin Kleiner.

During lunch, each group of students was able to meet with a leading engineer in their respective fields. This opportunity was not lost on the students, and they picked these mentors' brains on how to become famous inventors and engineers themselves.

As a special surprise, students had the opportunity to meet National Inventors Hall of Famer Dr. Victor Lawrence. A prolific inventor, Dr. Lawrence's work is widely regarded as a primary reason for advances in speech, audio, and digital videos.

"We would not be able to enjoy things like Youtube, Netflix, or even video games without the contributions of this legendary innovator," said Kleiner.

Partnering with Walnut Street in this effort was New Jersey Teacher of the Year and Camp Invention director Christine Girtain, as well as High School East teacher Dylan Langford, and student volunteers from TCNJ, Johns Hopkins, and Stevenson University. The leadership team from IEEE Region 1 helped funding this extraordinary opportunity for students.

Additional photos below.