Each year we try to have a unifying theme for the four weeks of camp, while continuing to challenge and motivate those who have attended camp for multiple years. At the same time we want to offer programs that will challenge those who are just getting started as well as those who think they already know everything they need to know. We are always impressed how everyone rises to the challenges and the enthusiasm that comes with learning in a fun and engaging environment. The program is centered around a challenge- or project-based learning where we provide guidance when needed; however, are strong advocates of, "fail early and fail often". The goal is to help develop skills in thinking through a problem and executing the solution. In a traditional classroom, students are typically told exactly what they need to know to pass a standardized test with little or no appreciation of how that knowledge will apply in the real world.
The year-round TechGarage program will begin to focus members toward real world problems where they can utilize their technology skills developed from competitive robotics. We will see what the campers can do and have some fun with the challenges starting in camp. This is a great way to start the process of getting students engaged in thinking about real-world problems at a young age.
Participants will form teams that to compete for cash prizes (X-prize) on the last day of the four-week camp. This is an optional program for those who want to step up to the challenge.
We will have a series of X-prize style challenges, details and specifications outlining a particular problem will be provided. The team that best solves that problem based on the specifications will be awarded a cash prize of $1,000. A sampling of X-prize challenges to select from are listed below, detailed specifications will be provided the first week of camp.
- A machine capable of automatically sorting 10 different types of Legos with 90% accuracy given a specific time limit.
- A robotic lawnmower that can automatically cut a region of grass at FAU Henderson school.
- A machine capable of sorting 6-32 bolts of varying lengths.
- A custom designed drone with increased lift capacity and modular payload area using the core electronics from a Bebop 2 drone.
These will be difficult challenges and we will be pleasantly surprised if teams are able to meet the specifications and be eligible for the cash prize. At most, only one cash prize will be awarded per X-prize challenge and the challenges will be open until solved.
VR Educational Challenge
We are making a significant investment in Virtual Reality hardware as a way to find fun avenues to get students engaged in programming. We are offering a Virtual Reality programming module in advance camp that will be very popular but unfortunately we can not accommodate everyone. Priority we will be given to year-round TechGarage members and campers who sign up for all four weeks. Campers who sign up for all four weeks and have minimal CAD(3D modeling) experience or programming background will be able to work on those skills in earlier weeks prior to taking the VR module. This is not designed to play existing VR games but to design and build a VR game. We will be using the Unity game engine which has done a great job of taking something that should be very time consuming and difficult and making it very achievable. For basic functionality almost no programming is required but does require familiarity with 3D modeling software(CAD) for the game elements and learning Unity.
In our partnership with FAU Henderson which is a K-8 University Lab school we will have a group of challenges focused on developing VR teaching modules that can be used in the classroom. The challenges will target areas where elementary students who do not perform well on standardized tests were teaching the core concepts using VR could make a difference. Teams will be able to present VR educational content they have developed based on list of specifications to a panel of educators at the end of camp with the potential to enter into a consulting contract with the school.
We will also offer a Shark Tank style competition on the last day of camp. Campers will have the opportunity to present a business idea and working prototype to a distinguished panel of judges. Cash prizes will be awarded if the judges feel the business idea has merit and the working prototype demonstrates the potential of the product. We have numerous mentoring programs in Boca for young entrepreneurs and this will be a great introduction to what it takes to start a business.
BEGINNING (Grades 4-8) - Registration
$350/week or $1200 for all 4 weeks (9am-5pm)
Beginning camp is designed for those who are just getting started and have a passion for technology. We have four structured programs where campers will be in one class in the morning and a different class in the afternoon. If a camper attends two weeks they will be able to complete all four programs. For campers who sign up for all four weeks we will work with them based on ability in advance camp or interest in other programs. We have no shortage of fun and engaging programs.
Programming/Electronics - Morning-Afternoon session
Electronics - Arduino microprocessor and breadboarding of electronics, LittleBits a fun build system that allows building of custom circuits and devices.
Computer Aided Design/Building - Morning-Afternoon session
Computer Aided Design(CAD)- Campers will use OnShape to CAD parts that can be laser cut or 3D printed. Will be focused on making something that can be taken home.
Building-We have a couple options based on interest. Campers will be able to do First Robotics League robot, SeaPerch, Model building, DIY STEAM kits.
ADVANCED (Grades 6-12) - Registration
$350/week or $1200 for all 4 weeks (9am-5pm)
Computer Aided Design
This is probably our most popular program every year where campers will learn and use CAD(OnShape.com) to laser cut and 3D print parts. We will also introduce Vacuum Forming which allows casting of parts with different materials. For those planning to do Shark Tank this will help understand the challenges of mass producing parts for a product. For those interested in the Lego sorter, Robot lawnmower, Drone build or Bolt sorter these will all require custom manufacturing of parts.
Virtual Reality Game Design
We fully anticipate this will be a very popular program and priority will be given to campers who sign up for all four weeks of camp. We will be using the Unity game engine to develop VR applications for HTC Vive, Oculus and possibly Microsoft HoloLens. A prerequisite for this program is the ability to CAD a 3D part which can then be imported into Unity which does a great job of minimizing complicated programming to do basic VR applications.
Raspberry PI and Arduino have redefined what is possible for low cost but powerful embedded systems. Campers will work through the core concepts of using Raspberry PI and Python to control external circuits and work with a range of add on boards(HATS) that allow for external input/output/control. This will provide a foundation for the skills needed to work on the X-prizes or SharkTank competition.
RoboCode is a great way to learn the fundamentals of Java programming where you program a Tank using a provided API that competes against other pre-programmed tanks and tanks from other campers. We offered this in our first two years of camp and was a big hit and guaranteed to get the competitive spirit going. Can't emphasize enough the importance of learning the fundamentals of programming using Java. Taking this class will be a prerequisite for the Virtual Reality Game Design program if you are new to TechGarage.