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Coding, Robotics, Making

San Carlos Site




Learningtech.org has been offering innovative, high-tech, STEM-oriented summer camps for 17 years. Our camps get excellent reviews, as evidenced on Great Nonprofits; we earned a "Best in Class" award at Maker Faire 2016, highlighting the work of our students. This year brings a strong focus to making, along with coding and robotics, and a strong emphasis on project-centric (rather than technology-centric) learning. Great engineers start from the problem, not the technology, and consider multiple designs. Students learn best when content is in service of authentic goals and personal interests. Several offerings include the opportunity to use our onsite Maker Space as a resource in project work. Some students may prefer to enroll specifically in the My Maker Space offering, where they can earn badges not only for qualifying on particular tools and technologies, but also for creative and innovative project plans, collaboration, and design thinking skills.

In coding, we offer a variety of tools, from block-based systems (such as Scratch/SNAP! and RobotMagic) to text-based systems (such as Python and Javascript). An advanced, special projects topic is designed to encourage older, experienced campers to pursue high-tech interests in a small group setting. For younger campers, we now offer both half-day and full-day options. Exploration Breaks, enabling campers to step outside of their primary topics, remain a popular feature, with our Maker Space providing the ideal venue. Popular explorations include 3D design and printing, creating decals with the vinyl cutter, stop-motion animations, programming blinkytape displays, soldering a blinkie badge, iMovie trailers, green-screen effects, and solar bot racing. While there is less emphasis on Minecraft than last year, students can still 3D print Minecraft characters, play Minecraft during lunch (if they know their own credentials), program their own Minecraft-themed micro-world in Scratch, or "mod" the Raspberry Pi version of Minecraft as one project idea in the Python/RPi offering. We are trying to encourage being a maker rather than a mere consumer of exciting technologies!



My Maker Space

WHAT

Spend a week or three in our onsite Maker Space, creating your own inventions! Start out by earning badges qualifying you to work with a range of tools and supplies, including: 3D printers, programmable vinyl cutters, Dremel tools, sewing machines, conductive thread, soldering irons, engraving tools, breadboards, hand tools, a wide variety of electronic components, sensors, lights, speakers and motors. Follow your personal interests to design an invention to take home! You can create your own decals on the vinyl cutter and then transfer the image onto the case for your smartphone or other personal belongings. You can make a "Rube Goldberg" machine that flashes lights, makes sounds, and then turns itself off again, whenever you turn it on. You can make a plushy toy such as a teddy bear or a smart pillow that lights up and makes a sound when tilted. You can make a "mechatronic" creature that seeks water when it is "thirsty." You can make "wearable electronics" such as an LED-encrusted bracelet or cap. You can use Arduino or Raspberry Pi microcomputers to add intelligence to your creations. You can explore the "Internet of Things" [IoT] by creating your own web-enabled gadget (please also see our Advanced/Special Projects offering). As the week goes by, you may earn additional badges for collaboration, design thinking, innovative project concepts or designs, creativity, and successfully making something cool. The Maker Space can be either a good way to get started with a more project-based approach to learning or a good way to follow up on things learned in another offering in a previous week. Enrolling in consecutive weeks is OK and would allow completion of more complex projects.

PRICE

$499 per week (Includes modest amounts of consumable materials. Projects requiring significant quantities of materials, or more expensive items such as microprocessor boards, may incur additional expenses, to be approved in advance by parents, so that students are able to take home their finished creations.)

WHO

Students age 9 and up. No prior experience is required. Older, more advanced students will be encouraged to tackle more challenging projects requiring mastery of additional tools, techniques, and, where applicable, coding. Students may elect this offering more than once, in order to explore additional tools and technologies, by tackling additional projects. Students enrolled in other topics may also use the Maker Space, for specific project needs, but on a more limited basis.

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Block-Based Coding

WHAT

  • Create your own games and stories using Scratch, SNAP, and other block-based tools!
  • Program animated dancers, robots using RobotMagic!
  • Campers will have their own control station with computer and robot controllers
  • Campers will be encouraged to collaborate with others in projects.
  • Program an Android "App" using AppInventor!
  • Simulate an ecosystem using Star Logo Nova!
  • Use a block-based programming system to create your own Minecraft-like world!

PRICE

$499

WHO

Students age 8 and up. No prior experience required. Older, more advanced students will be encouraged to tackle more challenging projects requiring mastery of more advanced coding techniques.

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Cool Robotic Engineering

WHAT

Learn to create amazing robotic inventions, using a variety of building materials, including Mindstorms EV3, NXT, Thymio, Finch, and others. Develop basic skills by completing a sequence of challenges in a "boot camp" format on the first day. Then move on to projects of your own design, emphasizing either the mechanical engineering or the coding aspects of robotics, based on your personal interests. Create prototypes of applications-oriented robots to accomplish particular classes of problems, such as navigating through mazes, solving Rubik's cube, or retrieving an object from a remote location with unpredictable coordinates. Move on to design solutions where two or more robots collaborate to solve a problem, using Bluetooth communications to coordinate their efforts. Older, more advanced students enrolled in this topic may also combine traditional kit-based robotics with "DIY" robot design, such as controlling a Mindstorms-based robot using Arduino or Raspberry Pi microcomputers; use of our Maker Space can also be arranged for these types of projects. There is also a unique opportunity to work on designs for liquid-handling robots, contributing to a research project with Stanford University that combines robotics with bioengineering.

PRICE

$499

WHO

This offering is for students age 8 and up that are interested in learning about robotic engineering and associated robotic programming. No prior experience is required. The offering is self-paced and project-based, so older, more advanced students can tackle more challenging projects, requiring intermediate to advanced robotics expertise, such as elaborate gearing or Bluetooth communications between robots. This is a great topic whether you are just starting out with robotics or returning for additional depth.

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Python Coding with Rasberry Pi

WHAT

Learn to assemble and configure a working Raspberry Pi 3 computer, an excellent yet inexpensive platform for learning Coding, Computational Thinking, and Computer Science. Become familiar with popular versions of the Linux desktop, the X Windows system, and the command line interface. Get started with powerful, text-based coding, using Python (a popular, interpreter-based programming language enjoying widespread adoption in both education and industry). Code a variety of example programs, including the ability to control various external devices such as strings of LEDs called blinkytapes, various types of robots, and more. Choose from a variety of self-directed project opportunities, guided by handouts and supported by individualized coaching, such as:

  • Starting from Learningtech.org's template, implement your own text-based Adventure game, modeled after the classic Zork game popular in the late 1970s
  • Use PyGame, an extension of Python, to create your own computer games after studying the source code for a collection of examples
  • Learn how to "mod" the Raspberry Pi version of Minecraft, to add your own blocks, characters, and weapons
  • Use the Pi's GPIO pins to connect to low-level hardware devices, such as for Internet of Things [IoT] gadgets
  • Implement a "Retro Pi" device, capable of emulating many classic arcade/video games
  • Optionally take advantage of our Maker Space to build your own portable Pi-based mobile/laptop computer, to take home and keep (cost of parts not included; advance planning with instructor is required to ensure cost-effective configurations that can be supported at home).

PRICE

$599 (Does not include the cost of optionally assembling a Raspberry Pi computer to keep. Families interested in this option should discuss existing equipment and mobility requirements with the instructor before purchasing any parts.)

WHO

This offering is appropriate for students age 10 and up. Some prior experience with coding is recommended but not required above age 11; experience with a block-based system such as Scratch is fine. Older, more advanced students will be encouraged to tackle more challenging projects requiring mastery of more advanced coding skills, interfacing to GPIO pins, learning Unix, or even assembling a portable Raspberry Pi computer to take home (parts costs not included). Some students may benefit from enrolling for a second week, in order to pursue more complex programming projects.

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Advanced/Special Projects

WHAT

Tackle specialized or advanced projects in a small-group setting, similar to a graduate seminar. Typical projects will involve the use of HTML and Javascript to create highly interactive web sites and/or to control Internet of Things [IoT] gadgets. Other text-based programming systems, such as Arduino C, may also be involved. Depending on your project requirements and interests, some use of our Maker Space may be involved for IoT activities.

Learn to incorporate Javascript code into HTML pages running on our student web server. With permission of your parents and the instructor, your pages will remain online after camp and accessible by the general public. Program dynamic, interactive web sites, such as your own web-based games. Work with a partner to create an elaborate, online Adventure Game, where graphically rich monsters pop up when you enter a room, or where the experience in a room depends on your inventory of tools and weapons. Or design an IoT gadget controllable from your personal website. Use your imagination! For example, you might combine an inexpensive GPS tracker with a small 802.11 board that fits on your dog's collar, to help ensure that you can find your dog, using your own web site, should it ever wander away. Or you might use inexpensive motion detectors to log visitors to your room, to keep your brothers and sisters from messing with your stuff. Or could use a moisture sensor to post an alert to your website when your favorite plant needs watering. Whatever you decide to create, you will learn to scope out and plan a nontrivial project, organize your resources, and write the code to bring it to life.

PRICE

$599 (Projects could incur additional parts costs, approved by parents in advance.)

WHO

This topic is appropriate for students age 10 and up. Prior experience with our other camp topics (or similar camps) is encouraged for students younger than 12. Campers should be self-starters with sufficient maturity to tackle and stick with challenging projects requiring intermediate expertise in text-based coding. This offering is an excellent choice for veteran campers who are older and looking for new challenges. A maximum of 12 students may enroll per week, to ensure ample personal attention from one of our most senior instructors.

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Young Campers

WHAT

  • Build and program robots and machines, using age-appropriate materials such as Cubelets, Thymios, Beebots, and more! Also, work with Roominate and other motivating construction sets.
  • Explore block-based coding with Code.org, Scratch/Scratch Jr., and other tools!
  • Morning is the same as the AM-Only class (same room).
  • Afternoon emphasizes exploring the wonders of nature, including outdoors activities, and thinking "like a scientist".
  • Campers will build and program robots and machines, using age-appropriate materials such as Cubelets, Thymios, Beebots, and more!
  • Campers will use Roominate and other motivating construction sets to design and build creative projects including lights and moving parts.
  • Campers will learn basic programming concepts and explore block-based coding with Code.org, Scratch/Scratch Jr., and other tools!
  • Afternoon sessions will emphasize exploring the wonders of nature, including outdoors activities.

PRICE

Full Day - $449
AM Only - $249

WHO

Full Day

Students age 6-8 (Entering grades 1-3) who are ready for a full-day camp.

AM Only

Students age 6-8 (Entering grades 1-3) who may not be ready for a full-day camp.

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Extended Care

WHAT

Adult supervision is provided as students engage in reading, recreation, and outdoor relaxation or games. All ages are welcome; activities are adjusted to be appropriate for those present. Chess, checkers, board games, construction materials, artwork, soccer, basketball, and other options are available. Students with their own electronic devices are welcome to use the school Internet to chat with friends, listen to music, and so on. Minecraft is permitted so long as each user knows their login and password information and no bullying behavior occurs (such as excluding a child from a team). Unfortunately, continued project work in the classrooms is not permitted during these hours since instructors need the early morning to prepare for the day and are not available to supervise their rooms after 3:30 PM.

PRICE

Early Dropoff: $30 per week
Late Pickup: $75 per week

Discounts and promotions are not applicable to Extended Care.

WHO

Students of all ages who are enrolled in any Learningtech.org camp at this location during the corresponding week, who need to be dropped off after 8:00 AM but before 8:45 AM, or who need to be picked up after 3:45 PM, but not later than 6:00 PM.

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