The Miller Institute
for Learning with Technology
Our Summer Camps, After School and In School programs emphasize Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics [STEM] as well as technology-enabled digital/media Arts. Depending on the venue and offering, our target audience ranges from spring term Kindergarten through high school, including exploratory coding and robotics programs for children as young as grades 1-3 and a UC A-G approved Computer Science elective. We also offer Professional Development programs for educators, such as at San Mateo County Office of Education. We stress self-paced, technology-rich, hands-on activities and projects with a low ratio of students to instructors. We try to foster positive attitudes toward STEM, confidence, competency, self-esteem, curiosity, lifelong learning, collaboration, resilience, and other 21st century workforce skills.
Our own core competencies are Computer Science, Robotics, Technology and Mathematics. We frequently add new topics, gradually broadening our coverage of other aspects of STEM, improving our outreach to underserved groups, and exploring ways to encourage more girls to pursue STEM interests. Career opportunities in STEM fields have grown three times faster than other areas over the last decade; yet the U.S. ranks at the bottom of the developed world in graduating new professionals with STEM majors. We like the increasingly popular term, STEAM, to reflect inclusion of topics such as the use of Technology to enrich the Arts or Music. To ensure outreach to underserved students, we offer scholarships to our tuition-based programs as well as tuition-free programs in target communities, funded by grants. Foster youth have been a recent focus for our outreach efforts; we have been fundraising and collaborating with local agencies to ensure that foster students have more equitable access to STEM enrichment. In the summer of 2015, we will provide about 10 scholarships to foster youth from San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties, enabling them to attend our San Carlos camps.
We are now enrolling students for our July 2015 San Carlos summer camp series. Additional programs around the San Francisco Bay Area will also be available: some in cooperation with partner agencies such as Peninsula Bridge or Foundation for a College Education, some sponsored by individual schools for their own students, and some open to the public in other locations such as Half Moon Bay. Please visit this page periodically for announcements about these offerings. Better yet, join our mailing list to be kept informed!
"My son did Java Coding through Minecraft Modding last year. We were really happy with it. He had little to no experience ... was only entering 5th grade... found it very challenging ... rose to the occasion ... came away feeling accomplished ... huge boost in his self confidence... made friends ... really enjoyed it." -- Parent of 2014 camper
Register now to reserve your child's spot for each week! Please let us know about topic preferences using the Comments field! Topic selections can be changed later, through the first day of camp.
The follow topic descriptions illustrate the sorts of after school programs, in school programs and summer camps that we offer. Not all topics are available at all times. Also, additional topics are added from time to time. If one of these topics -- or a related topic not mentioned here -- is of interest, please let us know! We are always pleased to explore ways to expand and improve our offerings and to reach more young people!
|Beginning to Intermediate LEGO Mindstorms Robotics
Assemble and program an autonomous robot using Lego Mindstorms. Initially build stock examples and download recommended programs using a graphical user interface and flowcharting language. Build a "floor turtle" that can draw geometric figures or navigate a maze, a robotic "dog" that follows its owner and barks, a marble sorting machine that recognizes colors, or a humanoid "walker" bot. Learn some fundamental computer programming concepts including flow of control, conditionals, loops, and variables. Best of all, after trying a few of the standard examples, create new robots of your own design while exploring important ideas in mechanics and mathematics!
|Raspberry Pi & Intro to Linux
Build your own Linux computer based on the Raspberry Pi motherboard! The Raspberry Pi is a $35 ARM-based computer with HMDI and stereo audio out, 10/100 Ethernet, 2 USB ports, and minimal power requirements. Explore the world of Linux with your very own credit card sized computer. Raspberry Pi Computer Assembly requires purchase of parts at our cost (est. $160 depending on configuration). Either a desktop or a "mobile" (laptop-like) version can be built and taken home to keep. This topic and Python are most suitable for Grades 5 and up. Assembly and software installation requires about one day, leaving most of the week to learn about the Raspian version of the Linux operating system, including built-in programming environments such as Scratch and Python. Shell scripting and text editing tools such as Emacs are also covered.
|Computers & Music
Learn how music and technology can work together. Use tools like GarageBand to quickly and easily produce your own multi-part tunes. Create a rhythm track to back up your own solo. Think about important musical ideas such as themes and variations, or the relationship between melody notes and changes in the harmony . Create an original work! Understand the differences between synthesizers and samplers. Learn about different types of music software, such as sequencers, notation software, and practice tools such as Band in a Box. Make a "mashup" or a podcast! Connect a midi controller keyboard to a computer. Ask local music ians about the technology used on their gigs!
|Create Your Own 2D Games from Scratch
Why settle for computer games written by grownups, when you can create your own cool games, animated stories or simulations, that do what you want? Programming environments such as Stagecast Creator, MIT's Scratch and UC Berkeley's BYOB empower students with no prior experience to create exciting games, stories and powerful simulations after only a few hours of exposure. Deep computer science concepts such as object-orientation, rule-based programming, and programming by example are embedded in easy-to-learn, graphical frameworks. Problem-solving and debugging skills learned in the programming context can be generalized and applied in a wide variety of non-computer settings. With appropriate content and parental permission, Scratch worlds can even be published on the Web! Even for Scratch experts, attending this program will now enable you to learn about the amazing new features of recently released Scratch 2.0!
|Create Your Own 3D Games and Stories using CMU's Alice
Students who have already learned to create 2D computer games - using tools such as Stagecast Creator or MIT's Scratch - are soon eager to move on to 3D. Carnegie Mellon University [CMU] has created a free, cross-platform programming tool, called Alice, to harness the power of 3D programming in an accessible format. Boys love the ability to create 3D action games, and girls love the ability to make 3D animated movies that tell a story. The CMU folks describe it like this: "Alice is an innovative 3D programming environment that makes it easy to create an animation for telling a story, playing an interactive game, or a video to share on the web. Alice is a teaching tool for introductory computing. It uses 3D graphics and a drag-and-drop interface to facilitate a more engaging, less frustrating first programming experience." Deep computer science concepts such as objects, variables and control structures, as well as higher order thinking skills such as planning and debugging, are learned at the same time that creative skills are unlocked, pursuing fun, authentic goals.
|Electronics with Arduino
Learn to solder; create a blinkie to wear and keep. Use an Arduino kit including electrical and electronic components to breadboard simple circuits. Use a meter to verify Ohm's Law. Investigate the effect on LED brightness caused by different resistances. Compare series to parallel. Wire up computer logic gates using transistors. Combine logic gates to create circuits that perform arithmetic/logical functions. Explore flip-flops and half adders. Build an astable and a bistable multivibrator. Explore how electricity relates to magnetism and how transistors can amplify or switch. Use Arduino to control amplification of analog signals, driving a motor. Design your own circuit using a logic simulator. Then program Arduino to control your invention!
|Google Earth and Geocaching
Geocaching is a high-tech treasure hunting game played throughout the world by adventure seekers equipped with GPS devices. The basic idea is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, outdoors and then share your experiences online. Geocaching is enjoyed by people from all age groups, with a strong sense of community and support for the environment. In recent offerings, we have worked with Coastside STEM to integrate this with Google Earth on iPads.
|Intermediate to Advanced Robotics with NXT-Python
Familiar with the basics of LEGO Mindstorms? Move up to the greater expressive power of text-based programming with NXT-Python! Develop higher order thinking skills including planning and debugging. Learn science, technology, engineering and mathematics in the robotics context. Learn to work as part of team preparing for a competitive event. Build a "worker bot" to pick up objects, carry them to a destination and drop them off; a "battle bot" using sensor input to outwit predators; a Mars Rover designed to search for blue water while avoiding craters; or a even an artificially-intelligent robot capable of playing Tic-Tac-Toe!
|Introduction to Unix-like Operating Systems
Learn about Linux and other variations of Unix, including the BSD roots of the modern Macintosh operating system. Start to use the Mac Terminal or the Linux command line to accomplish tasks that are tedious or even inaccessible from the Graphical User Interface [GUI]. Understand the differences between a word processing application and a programmer-oriented text editor such as vi or Emacs. Write command line shell scripts and use keyboard macros to automate repetitive tasks. Learn about the different varieties of Linux such as Ubuntu and Red Hat, and compare the GUIs available for Linux systems such as Gnome and KDE. Explore open source apps such as Open Office.
|Tell a Digital Story with Pictures and Sound
Write and produce a compelling digital story for yourself, family, friends or a wider audience. Learn to convey big ideas and strong emotions within the strict time constraints of a short clip, capturing and keeping viewer/listener attention. Plan and script your project using a "storyboard." Use iPhoto or iMovie to produce your own video. Use cinematic tools, artwork, sound effects, video effects and transitions. Take a seat in the director's chair! Curriculum inspired by Berkeley's Center for Digital Storytelling. With appropriate content and permission of guardian, your story could even be published on the Internet.
|Troubleshooting 101 / Classroom Technology Officers
Hands-on activities illustrate specific procedures to help teachers and family with preventive maintenance, troubleshooting and problem resolution, on Windows and Mac computers, networks, and printers. Take apart a working computer and then put it back together again! Play the "troubleshooting game" -- "break" a working computer (under supervised conditions) -- then try to fix one broken by another team. Acquire the same skills used daily by Information Technology [IT] professionals. More importantly develop habits of mind that apply to many areas outside of the narrow technology context. Observe how troubleshooting techniques parallel the Scientific Method.
As a founding partner in the San Mateo County Community STEM Alliance [SMCCSA], we currently offer about a dozen after school programs (some grades 4-5, others grades 6-8), spanning several cities and unincorporated areas, through a grant from San Mateo County. These programs are tuition-free and emphasize outreach to students who were not otherwise being adequately served. Signups are through the Parks and Recreation Department at each respective city. This grant funding is now in its fourth year. Peninsula TV recently aired a video segment highlighting these County-wide efforts. Additional information about our SMCCSA offerings can be found on the Coastside STEM web site.
In January and May-June, annually, we offer an in-school Computer Science and Information Technology elective for students at Summit Preparatory Charter High School and Everest Public High School. We also offer this program at Rainier and Tahoma High Schools in San Jose as of 2013. Our curriculum has been approved for University of California A-G credit. Students turn in all assignments as online digital portfolios, which they create as HTML files.
Many parents and educators ask us whether it would be possible to deliver our programs at their schools. Our objective is to serve as many students as possible, as equitably as possible, without sacrificing quality or sustainability. Each additional venue requires lead time and resources for planning and preparation. Our costs to deliver these types of programs depend on the format (in-school, after-school, day camp), locale and venue. For sustainability, we typically require revenue equivalent to at least a dozen paid tuitions. In school and after school programs are currently offered only in locations near where our regular Instructors reside (San Mateo County, Santa Clara County, and a few sites in Los Angeles). Longer programs such as summer camps can delivered at other locations, including outside California, provided that sufficient additional revenues wouuld be realized (whether through school funds, grants or tuition paid by families) to defray travel expenses for Instructors. We also offer professional development for educators wishing to learn from our work and then offer their own programs. We especially welcome opportunities to partner and seek grant funding to enable us to deliver tuition-free programs in underserved communities. In the case of tuition-based programs, we always do our best to identify sources for scholarship funding, to ensure that no students are excluded due to financial hardship.