Summer Camp Classes 2017


When you register for our full day camp, you will receive a confirmation email which will direct you to a Topic Interest Survey form where you can indicate and rate your interest in up to 8 topics.  All camp class topic choices will be fulfilled to the greatest extent possible.  We reserve the right to remove a topic or change its scope depending on staff availability and how soon we receive camper topic interest responses. The deadline for returning this survey is May 1st but earlier responses will help us to plan our staffing. Those registering after May 1st must return the survey as soon as possible.

You must add to your approved email contacts list. If this is not done you may miss important information and lose your registration for the camp.

We know that student topic interests may change after the survey is submitted. We will accommodate changes as much as possible. Full day campers will receive a final schedule at least one week before their camp week starts. On the Topic Interest Survey form, be sure to read and understand all of the text, including the schedule for Monday-Thursday and Friday.  On Fridays, we allow students to spend their time on their favorite topics or special presentations by visitors or our instructors, or a tour of the JJ McCarthy Observatory on the school campus.

Outdoor activities can be selected for an entire week or for just 2 days. During the time period for outdoor activities, students not wanting a full week will have access to indoor activities or topics such as soldering, chess or other strategy games.

Several topics involve a materials fee that is required (such as for Drones) or optional (such as for Microcontrollers).

Several topics require that an online account be created so the student can continue their work outside of the camp.


Introduction to Robotics with LEGO NXT

4 days, 2 blocks/day. All ages.

  • Create robots and learn fundamentals of programming and engineering with LEGO’s programmable NXT bricks, motors, sensors and Mindstorms software. Students work through a series of challenges with the highest being to build and program a robot to navigate a maze all by itself. Students accomplishing those steps early can take on higher level challenges with the NXT robot system of their own design or prepared by the instructors or move on to the LEGO EV3 system and programming.

Advanced Robotics with VEX, Tetrix and/or EV3 robotics systems

4 days, 1 block/day. Ages 12+ or by permission and prior experience with LEGO NXT or EV3 or VEX robotics.

  • Individual and/or group projects for advanced students wanting to explore larger and more complex robots. Robot systems include LEGO NXT and EV3 and VEX. Programming is done with Mindstorms or RobotC. This topic is especially good for students wanting to join or increase skills for a FIRST Lego League (FLL) or FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) team, or who want to learn a C-based language and have a fun way to apply it.

Build Your Own Drone

4 days, 1 block/day.  Ages 12+ or by permission.

  • Students will learn about the engineering and science that make drone helicopters possible, learn about applications for drones and discuss problems caused by drone technology.  Each student will build a remote controlled drone they will keep, while learning soldering techniques, see 3D design software designs created for the body of the drone and see the drone bodies fabricated on our 3D printers. This topic requires an additional $50 materials fee for the drone components, remote control and extra propellers. The fee can be paid by check before camp or on the first day but is not payable online.

Soldering of Electronics

2-3 days, 1 block/day; can be paired with Outdoor Activities. Ages 8+.

  • Learn the basics of soldering electrical components like resistors, capacitors and LED lights onto circuitboards and see them work. We have three levels of projects, all designed by our former mentors and now engineers working at Apple. Also Available: Students can bring their own electronic soldering projects to the camp to work on and have assistance as needed.

Circuit Design and Fabrication

4 days, 1 block/day.  Ages 12+ or by permission.

  • Circuit boards are the heart of every electronic device we encounter. In this class, you will learn every step of the process, from design to prototyping to fabrication.
    • start with a simple circuit and the simple electrical equations and math involved to make sure that the circuit will operate correctly and safely.
    • learn how breadboards work by actually creating that same circuit, testing it and making electrical measurements to compare with your math.
    • create the same circuit using perforated board and soldering.
    • learn basics of the free circuit design software Eagle to design the circuit on a computer. You will have a professionally made version of the circuit, designed in Eagle and fabricated by a circuit board manufacturer, and solder the devices to it and see it work.

Microcontrollers: the heart of robotics and electronics (with Arduino)

4 days, 1 block/day.  Ages 12+ or by permission. Keyboarding and programming experience is helpful but not required.  

  • This class describes the controller boards that are at the heart of the Internet of Things. Students learn what to consider when choosing one type of controller over another (such as an Arduino vs. a Raspberry Pi). It also describes what kinds of boards might be available in the near future. Students will work with several versions of Arduino or Arduino-type controllers, learn how to connect them to a computer and program them using C-based language to control lights, sound and motors. The class involves an optional Lab Fee of $40 for students to keep a complete Arduino kit to continue using at home after the camp ends. If the kit is desired, the fee can be paid by check before camp or on the first day but not payable online.

Raspberry Pi: A new dimension in computers

4 days, 1 block/day plus an optional extra project on Friday. Ages 12+ or by permission.  

  • A Raspberry Pi is a fully functional computer that is the size of a deck of cards. The Pi needs only a keyboard, mouse and monitor to be used for many purposes including game development and coding in various languages. In this class, students will learn the construction and capabilities of the Raspberry Pi microcomputer, the Linux operating system used and how it compares with typical desktop or laptop computers, common uses such as internet browsers and programming in Scratch, and linking with Arduino microcontrollers. On Fridays, students have the option of learning about using Mathematica on the Pi for many math and graphing functions and continuing with other activities with the Pi. Students wanting a complete Raspberry Pi kit, including keyboard and mouse and cables, can buy one from Robotics And Beyond at a cost of $75.

Graphic Design and Animation

4 days, 1 block/day. Ages 9+. No keyboarding skills required.

  • Explore true artistic graphic design, in 2-dimensions, with the free software Fire Alpaca and/or GIMP and learn to create animations of your work. Students will create their own account for their projects and be able to continue using the software at home. Fire Alpaca and GIMP are an open-source graphic art alternative to Photoshop and have the added benefit of animation, and are a great way to start learning about graphic art software in general.


4 days, 1 block/day plus optional time on Friday to finish and show to the entire camp. Ages 10+.

  • Learn about actual roles, terminology and methods used in filming and producing videos or movies. Work as a group to film activities in the camp, conduct interviews, discuss the final video content, edit and present the result. See it featured on our website!

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Printing – Level 1

4 days, 1 block/day.  Ages 10+ or by permission.  

  • For students with no or little experience with CAD and 3D printing. Learn the fundamentals of 3D design using Autodesk Inventor, including functions of the software and many important terms used by designers, machinists and engineers. Learn how a 3D printer actually works, create a 3D model, and have it printed.

Computer Aided Design (CAD) and 3D Printing – Level 2

4 days, 2 blocks/day.  Ages 12+ or by permission and prior experience with CAD.

  • For students with who have already learned fundamental methods and vocabulary of CAD and 3D printing. Using Autodesk Inventor, learn to create engineering drawings, more complicated assemblies, stress and strength analysis tools and other higher level skills. Students can also use ideas of their own as they learn and apply the skills they learn. Fridays allow still more time for independent work and help as needed. Computers and software are provided. Campers can bring a laptop and we will attempt to install the software so it can be used at home but those students must have an email account they can use to set up a 3-year Autodesk student account at no charge.

Architectural Design (New!)

4 days, 1 block/day.  Ages 11+ or by permission.  

  • Students will learn to use basic tools of Autodesk software “Revit” as they learn about principles of architectural design such as space, form, scale, function, aesthetics and other important aspects of design.

Programming with Scratch

4 days, 1 block/day. Ages 8+. No keyboard skills necessary. Students should create a Scratch account at home before the class or provide an email address that can be used to create an account in the camp.

  • Scratch is a “drag and drop” programming language developed at MIT. It is free and easily used with no risk of downloads to a computer as it is done completely online. Scratch is excellent for learning all of the fundamental concepts of programming in any language and suitable for very young as well as older students. However, Scratch can also be used to create very complex programs for games and simulations in many subjects like physics, math, computers, and engineering. Students will create their own personal Scratch account, learn how to begin and save projects, create simple programs, find interesting projects online and see their actual code, and understand and change the code to change the outcome of the program.

Programming with Python

4 days, 1 block each day. Ages 12+ or by permission. Some keyboard (typing) ability is important for this class.  

  • Python is an excellent first language for text-based coding and for learning fundamentals of programming  and is also becoming the Language-of-Choice at more and more universities for introducing programming concepts and skills. Python is also very valuable for careers and personal interests. Python is a common language for Linux-based operating systems, for Raspberry Pi microcomputers. This class begins with an introduction to the four basic concepts common to every language of programming. Students will work through a series of exercises to understand the concepts and begin to learn the Python language syntax and structure. Following this class, students will be ready for more advanced classes in Python or be well prepared to begin learning other programming languages such as Java, JavaScript, C or HTML with us, in school or online.

Visit our Suggested Reading page for more information on Python.

Programming with Java – Level 1

4 days, one 1 block/day. Ages 12+. Some keyboard (typing) ability is important for this class. 

  • Java is a widely used language for many server and web applications and is the basis for Advanced Placement (AP) programming and computer science classes in high school and many college classes. Students will begin learning the Java language and syntax with simple programs of 5-20 lines. After learning the basics, continue with more complex and longer programs to build your knowledge of syntax, program structure and fundamental programming concepts.

Programming with Java – Level 2

4 days, one 1 block/day. Ages 12+ or by permission. Prior experience with Java or another text programming language is required. Some keyboard (typing) ability is important for this class.

  • Students will gain more experience with Java using Minecraft mods as the example. Students will create more complex and longer programs to build a knowledge of important vocabulary, coding grammar (syntax), program structure and fundamental programming concepts as they work with existing mods. At the end of the class students will not be able to create their own original Minecraft mods in Java because that takes more experience than is possible in such a short class. However, students will gain a very good appreciation for what a mod in Java involves and be well prepared to continue learning on their own with Minecraft mod tutorials or other examples available online.

Game Development with Game Salad

4 days, 1 block/day. Ages 10+. No keyboarding skills are required.  

  • Game Salad is a free software package that allows easy use of character and objects to design, test and play video games. Students will learn about important concepts like game strategy, layout, progression and character creation. Along with experience in any “C”-based language, this is a good class to prepare for text-based game development software like Unity or Unreal Engine.

Server Construction

4 days, 1 block/day. Ages 11+ or by permission. No keyboarding skills required.

  • Minecraft is used to teach fundamentals of setting up and operating a game server such as: the hardware that servers require, the setup of an internet server, and the software components and skills that are needed to make a server run, host multiple users and create a fun game environment for the players. This is great preparation for trying to create your own server at home and for pursuing computer science in high school or college.

Outdoor and Indoor Activities (all week)

5 days, 1 block/day. Any age.  

  • A number of non-technical outdoor and indoor activities (depending on weather and preference) will be available by scheduling or drop-in if it fits a student’s schedule.

Outdoor and Indoor Activities (partial week)

2 days, 1 block/day. Any age.  

  • Choose this topic if you are asking for a partial-week topic like soldering. A number of non-technical outdoor and indoor activities (depending on weather and preference) will be available by scheduling or drop-in if it fits a student’s schedule.
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