We're big on STEM (not STE'A'M) and we searched high and low for a quality and 'legit' robotics summer camp program for my son who's into this stuff and found this.
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When my son was eleven years old he 3D printed the body and built an autonomous robot. Autonomous means the thing interacted with its environment and moved around on it's own!
The thing was amazing. I'm not saying that because he's my son, but because he was eleven years old when he built it and the thing could find it's way out of an enclosure.
His first experience was an experiments of sorts.
Another homeschool family was able to get a summer robotics course started at a local school. Then the mother pulled some favors and twisted some arms and managed to get a working engineer to teach during the entire summer.
He got paid less than half his consulting rate and brought in a friend as an 'assistant' instructor. The assistant was retired.
Both of these instructors worked on space stuff. The retired instructor built satellites and guidance systems.
The program was run very organically. Students could stay all day or less. They had a brief lesson during the first hour in the morning, then each student worked on their own robotics project.
They'd get basic instruction on the equipment like soldering, 3D printing, programing, etc. My son fried an electronics board while soldering it. Oops.
Things were done rough and took advantage of a lot of freeware. For example, in order to use the 3D printing machines they actually had to program machine language or what not to get the shapes they wanted. No point and clicking here.
He made it to just 10 classes when he finished his working robot.
We couldn't believe how much he actually learned and accomplished on his own in ten days!
The following summer the school decided to run their own program. The instructors from the previous year didn't return. And prices jumped, class/instruction/lab hours dropped.
We didn't feel it was as good a value compared to the summer before.
My son built his own robot at home as a project. But it didn't turn out to be autonomous. It ended up being more like a remote control robot, which isn't what I'd call (or he'd call) a 'robot'.
But it was still a worthy project to practice his skills and get his hands dirty.
For a few years we looked for a similar program.
But they all fell short, for us.
They all felt too simplistic. You'd build the robot with pre-manufactured parts that you'd stick together like plastic brics or snap together or screw together. Then the programming language just felt dumb down and too simplistic... point and click.
In other words they felt like glorified toys.
This method isn't bad if you just want to get a feel for it or to kill time or for your very first project when you're very young.
But if you want a challenge and you want to build something by hand, these robotic camps or classes are not interesting enough.
But this is what we ran across most often.
We decided to pass on these things and keep looking.
But after a while of this we realized that it's better from my son to get some hands on experience than not much to none.
We don't live in a big place so we don't have a home lab or workshop like other people do.
So we set off to find the most rigorous program near us and enroll him.
But ran into the same concerns, nothing seemed rigorous despite the cost.
We like that the classes are taught by working adults in the industry. Kids learn from people with frontline, hands on experience.
There's an 8-to-1 student to instructor ratio ensuring kids get an important amount of attention, coaching, and feedback.
Most classes are lab based. Kids learn by doing. There's no fluff to kill time.
The classes use industry standard tools. Which means students, especially in the courses for older or more advanced students, learn how to use the tools professionals use today. The focus is hands on and practical experience.
Many past students end up working or landing internships with the skills and connections they make through ID Tech. Others use their experience to help strengthen their college applications.
It's convenient to find courses across the U.S. with camps held at over 150 college campuses. There's one near you.
We love the wide array of courses that are fun, instructive, and marketable. In other words, kids can attend for the love of learning, to improve their hobby and skills, or for the practical reason that these skills could turn into careers. What parent doesn't want that?
Unfortunately, these camps don't cover all STEM subjects, but no camp could do that. For example, they do not offer chemistry or biology.
But they offer fun areas like robotics, electrical engineering, computer coding, computer security and encryption, coding for video games, and coding for Apple and Android apps. Imagine developing your on iPhone app!
Another great thing about them is that they have beginner to advance classes and classes from ages 6 to 18.
I wish they had camps for adults!
Check them out. You'll probably find something fun and interesting for your child.
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