Vision Tech Camps https://www.visiontechcamps.com Summer Computer Camp in the Bay Area for Kids & Teens Wed, 26 Jul 2017 16:28:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.7.5 122559688 A Very Belated Set of Thoughts on GDC 2017 – Virtual Reality Edition https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/belated-set-thoughts-gdc-2017-virtual-reality-edition/ Fri, 31 Mar 2017 13:00:25 +0000 https://www.visiontechcamps.com/?p=30890 Just shy of a month since GDC, I finally managed to set aside some time to write up my thoughts on the game development community and how it has changed since 2016. I’ll write up a few more posts these coming weeks over a few topics that I saw at the floor. The first thing […]

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Just shy of a month since GDC, I finally managed to set aside some time to write up my thoughts on the game development community and how it has changed since 2016. I’ll write up a few more posts these coming weeks over a few topics that I saw at the floor.

The first thing that comes to mind from visiting the Expo floor is just how all-in everyone was on Virtual Reality. Don’t get me wrong, Virtual Reality is a very promising field (I even help to design a class on VR) – but I was a little disappointed to see everyone going in almost the same direction when it came to alternate controls and usage schemes. The Nintendo Switch, sadly, wasn’t present to show off – though admittedly from what I’ve seen since it would have been a welcome addition.

I mean, in the spirit of things, I tried Virtual Reality. And by that I mean I tried nearly every Virtual Reality station I could. I’ll go through most of the ones I saw on the Expo Floor, and give my opinions from what I saw on the floor. Just a heads up, all of the demos I tried were with my glasses on, which most VR platforms now try to accomodate, though some do better than others.

  • The Oculus Rift – The most well known of these, the Rift is pretty much the standard by which you judge other VR headsets – if they fail to match up to the Rift, they kind of have a serious problem that needs to be addressed. The Rift has a pretty solid VR setup, and unlike some VR setups I tried back in 2014 and 2015, I do feel like the headache issue was no longer present – I don’t get the sense of visual dissonance that I used to, and while I didn’t try it for extended periods (I’m not sure if I could say the same after 2 hours of gaming) – they’ve certainly managed to hit the basics, especially considering that I have to wear glasses under the things. That said…there’s an old niggle that still bugs me with the Rift – its when I’m looking at far off objects, the pixellation on the screen becomes much more apparent – which is probably why nearly all of the demos were kept in short-range objects. Perhaps additional resolution might help, dual 1080p might not be quite enough for long range focusing in wide, open landscapes. That said, the price drop announced at GDC to $499 makes this much more appealing than it used to be.

  • Google DayDream – OK, this one’s a little interesting – Daydream is something like a more expensive Cardboard for specially designed phones such as the Pixel, with a bit more kick to it. I…actually was reasonably impressed. The quality is nowhere near the level of the Rift or the high end VR setups, but it was decent for the price point – the downside is the high level of hardware specificity – unlike Cardboard, you can’t theoretically swap in any phone – not even any Android phone – and make this work. In the end, it’s promising, but the limited amount of phones that will work with it reduces the chance of it being usable for the general public. That said, the one neat thing about this, is the chance of being able to upgrade the phone in the future and upgrade all the visual and processing capabilities – theoretically you could swap in a hypothetical 8k phone with more processing power than you could want into it, and it would still work.

  • Sony Playstation VR – I tried the PS VR on a few simple demos set in small rooms, so I can’t speak as to how it would deal with the long-range issue that’s bugged me in mainstream VR, buut unfortunately, the PS VR has two problems – the resolution per eye is only 960×1080 per eye, and unfortunately, its just not quite enough. They went for an interesting subpixel effect to try to smooth things over, but the problem is that I can actually see the individual subpixels giving a weird color effect to anything I tried. Moreover, the price, at $399, isn’t really a winner here either, I’d much rather throw the extra $100 down to pick up a Rift over the PS VR. I would honestly not recommend this VR experience for the price point, if you’re considering getting this, I’d honestly recommend either putting up a little more for a considerably better experience, or scaling back to some of the lower end VR experiences.

  • The HTC Vive – Ah, the Vive. I’ve been itching to get my hands on a Vive for quite some time now, and the experience did not disappoint. While the resolution on the device is pretty much identical to the Rift, the polish on the device was superior, with a more comfortable set on my head, and it felt more natural dealing with far off viewpoints, despite the fact that I could *still* sort of see the individual pixels when trying to focus on far off objects, it bothered me less on the Vive somehow. So far, I would put the Vive as the best VR experience available right now, though admittedly the price point – at $800 – is considerably more than the Rift is right now. Time will tell if HTC will feel pressured to reduce that to compete with the Rift’s price point, but as of now, it seems Vive feels comfortable that their advantages justify the price. To be *completely* fair, the Vive comes with its controller by standard, which is the equivalent of the Oculus Rift’s $598 package, so the price discrepancy isn’t as high as it first appears. Me personally, I do feel that while the Vive is superior, HTC would be well served by dropping the total package price by $100 in the near future – while I did find the experience superior, it wasn’t night-and-day superior.

  • 8K VR – Out of fairness to the company indicated, I won’t name this company, which claimed they had a large variety of technical issues on the day I went to see the demo – they claimed their computer had broken, and they had to borrow a computer from another booth, rebuild their demo program in a rush, and try to work with it, but this company claimed to have 8k VR (or roughly 4k in each eye, as opposed to the Vive/Rift which has roughly 1080p in each eye). I tried the headset and…admittedly, the screen-door effect was reduced. Unfortunately, I’m guessing that HTC and Oculus have done a lot of effort in reducing the effects of visual dissonance in software, because I almost got a headache in just about 3 minutes of trying it. It was sad to see, but it seems you can’t just solve VR problems by throwing more resolution at it – not to mention that 8K VR will certainly require beefier computers than we currently have – even normal VR is just starting to be reasonably affordable at this point in time.

Well, that’s my roundup of every piece of VR hardware I could try at GDC. For now, it’s back to helping kids learn to program! Next time, I’ll go over the engines and the developments I saw at GDC.

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Kids Developing Games – What kind of tools should kids make games with? https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/kids-developing-games-what-kind-of-tools-should-kids-make-games-with/ Mon, 09 Jan 2017 20:28:43 +0000 https://www.visiontechcamps.com/?p=29301 As a game developer, I can remember many passionate arguments during the initial phases of developing a game revolving around one simple thing – the technologies we planned to use creating it. In a similar manner, many times kids interested in game development end up stymied by this decision – namely – what tools should […]

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As a game developer, I can remember many passionate arguments during the initial phases of developing a game revolving around one simple thing – the technologies we planned to use creating it. In a similar manner, many times kids interested in game development end up stymied by this decision – namely – what tools should they use to build the game in the first place? As someone who designs and teaches many courses for teaching kids video game design, I felt like going over some of these options.

In this post, I will go over some of my favorite tools to recommend kids begin developing games with, based on skill level and experience with games and game design. Bear in mind, this list is far from comprehensive, and if you have any suggestions for any tools I should add in another post, please feel free to recommend them in the comments.

No Experience

These tools are what I consider most appropriate for the youngest students interested in game design, who lack any knowledge of what building games entails, though some of them can go beyond this level and be used for older students or those who are exploring programming as well.

Kodu

Kodu is one of the simplest game creation tools available, built by Microsoft, and is available on both PCs and the Xbox 360. While a successor project known as Project Spark was available for the Xbox One, Microsoft canceled the project late last year.

That said, Kodu’s strength is its extremely easy to use programming system – which allows students with no programming experience to easily comprehend the system. It revolves around a simple conditionality system – where kids program simple “if-then” conditional structures, such as “If an object sees a fruit, it will move towards that fruit”.

Pros:

• Very simple to use
• Suitable for young children
• Easy to create 3D environments without worrying about developing art or 3D assets
• Can be used to build collaborative/multiplayer games
• Free

Cons:

• Only works on Xbox 360 and PC
• Hard limitations on what kind of assets or art can be put in the game
• No online multiplayer or split screen multiplayer
• The simple programming system can be somewhat limiting

Scratch

The Scratch programming language, built by MIT, is one of the most famous visual programming languages known – and is widely used in schools already. The Scratch programming language can be readily used to create games. Like Kodu, Scratch focuses heavily on conditional programming, but also includes more iterative aspects allowing students to trigger a series of events on a single condition more easily.

Pros:

• Good language to learn to program with
• Allows custom art assets
• Many children already have experience with Scratch from school
• Free

Cons:

• No mobile support
• Lacks some useful game development features

Minecraft

While Minecraft does not seem like a traditional choice for game design, the game, built by Mojang, has an impressively large community and features that make it a surprisingly good choice for game development. Indeed, Minecraft camps now make up a large percentage of all technology camps done during the summer, and the popularity of the game means that children tend to be extremely familiar with it.
Minecraft features two tools that allow it to be used for game design even without leaving the game – Redstone, and Command Blocks. Redstone is a surprisingly powerful system in Minecraft that resembles electricity and can be used to build logical structures such as logic gates, adders, flip-flops, and other components that would feel right at home in a course on electrical engineering. Command Blocks, on the other hand, allow designers to build “code” into Minecraft that executes on a Redstone trigger, allowing a surprisingly versatile level of control, letting kids build custom game rules into the game of Minecraft.
Furthermore, Minecraft’s impressively large development community has focused on building a large number of high quality “mods” which can be used to extend the game of Minecraft further, though this requires more programming knowledge

Pros:

• Easy to build 3D environments in Minecraft
• Extremely large support community
• Many children are extremely familiar with the game

Cons:

• Advanced work such as custom art or complicated code requires modding, requiring more experience
• Most features not available on Minecraft’s mobile edition

Some Experience

These tools are a step above the previous tools in terms of flexibility and usually allow a wider variety of game types to be built, though most of them still do not require programming in a text, or code form.

Clickteam Fusion 2.5

Clickteam Fusion 2.5, successor to the long-lived Multimedia Fusion line, is an excellent tool for aspiring developers looking to test their skills in game development and art without worrying too much about the programming aspects. While the programming system, called the Event Editor, is conditional much like Kodu and Scratch, it allows for a wide variety of chosen actions and conditions related to the game and is not excessively limiting.

Pros:

• Large variety of games possible to be built
• Allows custom art and programming
• Has support for Mobile, HTML5, PC, Mac, and even limited console support
• Large pre-made library of basic art assets

Cons:

• No support for tiling
• Somewhat expensive for students, especially including exporter costs to mobile or consoles

Stencyl

Stencyl is quite similar to Clickteam Fusion 2.5, and much like it does not require actual code for developing games. Unlike Clickteam Fusion 2.5, Stencyl has superior tiling support, and its programming system is clearly based on the Scratch programming system.

Pros:

• Large variety of games possible to be built
• Allows custom art and programming
• Has support for Mobile, HTML5, PC, & Mac
• Tiling support
• Free

Cons:

• Comes without any graphics, requiring students to either build or find graphics

RPG Maker MV

RPG Maker MV is the latest version in a long line of products in the RPG Maker family. While the RPG Maker name gives it away, the RPG Maker family has precisely one type of game it can realistically build – RPG’s, or Role-Playing Games. This focus means that when it comes to having kids build RPG’s, its hard to find a better option that doesn’t involve programming, as the system handles things such as random encounters, overworlds, portals, cutscene control, and so on, all without requiring programming. The system does include an Event system largely similar to the conditional programming systems seen in other game development tools, but as it’s limited to only creating RPG’s, its not as fleshed out as many others.

Pros:

• Comes with large amount of assets for creating an RPG quickly
• Excellent support for RPG creation
• Mobile support

Cons:

• Can only build RPG’s
• Limited support for non-standard battle or control systems
• Somewhat expensive for kids

Moderate Experience

The tools below are expected to be used by students who have a keen interest in game design, are older, or are intending to learn to program in preparation for a future career. All of these engines are neutral on game type, though some may lack 3D support

PyGame

PyGame is one of the most popular game development tools for a reason, using the Python programming language. Python is one of the most intuitive languages to learn programming with, and PyGame is one of the most versatile and user-friendly game engines available. That said, PyGame struggles to support non-desktop systems, so if you’re looking to develop a game for mobile phones, this probably isn’t the best choice.

Pros:

• Features excellent tools, community, and support
• Well documented
• Easy to learn
• Free

Cons:

• Lacks mobile support
• Lacks 3D support

Libgdx

LibGDX, in Java, is a well known and used game development tool used to create cross-platform games. LibGDX has HTML5 support, mobile support, as well as cross-platform desktop support. Java is the current subject of the AP Computer Science test, meaning that students of that age are likely to either be familiar with, or interested in learning Java, making it a popular choice for that age range.

Pros:

• Cross-platform and mobile support
• Well known and established language
• Free

Cons:

• Somewhat sparse documentation

Unreal Engine

The Unreal Engine is one of the most powerful choices to develop with and is used by many professional and well-known games such as Dishonored, Gears of War 4, and Unreal Tournament. The engine is powerful and surprisingly intuitive and comes with a reasonable level of sample art to work with. The programming system allows for both a visual scripting system known as Blueprint, and C++ code to be used as well.

Pros:

• Extraordinarily powerful
• Cross-platform and mobile support
• Free

Cons:

• Somewhat sparse documentation

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Vision Tech Camps sees record-high enrollment in summer 2016 https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/vision-tech-camps-sees-record-high-enrollment-in-summer-2016/ Fri, 12 Aug 2016 01:53:58 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25818 The post Vision Tech Camps sees record-high enrollment in summer 2016 appeared first on Vision Tech Camps.

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Aug. 12, 2016

Press Contact:
Christa Keizer
press@visiontechcamps.com

Vision Tech Camps sees record-high enrollment in summer 2016

Bay Area education program records 50 percent jump in female enrollment

 

San Francisco, Calif. – Vision Tech Camps, a Bay Area provider of summer camps for kids ages seven to 17, wrapped up its 2016 summer season with a 30 percent annual increase in enrollment in its engineering, programming, robotics, game design, and Minecraft summer camps. The company enrolled 50 percent more girls this summer, making 2016 its most gender-diverse year in 16 years of business.

Girls’ and parents’ increased interest in technology education led to the company’s busiest summer ever. “Popularity of the Minecraft video game among girls has especially driven a lot of interest in coding and video game design,” says Anita Khurana, the company’s founder and CEO.

To promote diversity in technology fields, Vision Tech Camps is seeking corporate sponsors for its 2017 diversity scholarship program. “We feel that Silicon Valley could do more to encourage and enable kids to learn STEM skills in a fun environment. Technology companies can partner with Vision Tech Camps to help reach children that may not otherwise have access to technology education programs.”

Companies interested in sponsoring a 2017 diversity scholarship are encouraged to contact [email protected]. Parents interested in 2017 Vision Tech education programs can visit visiontechcamps.com for more information.

Vision Tech Camps offers high-quality technology education year-round in Saratoga, Lafayette, Piedmont, Danville. In 2017, Vision Tech plans to open three new locations in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Berkeley.

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Top 3 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn to Code Today https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/top-3-reasons-why-your-child-should-learn-to-code-today/ Fri, 29 Apr 2016 01:48:08 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25809 The post Top 3 Reasons Why Your Child Should Learn to Code Today appeared first on Vision Tech Camps.

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Back when we were kids, our teachers and mentors told us to focus on the facts. Memorize certain processes and apply those facts and processes to the test. Once we passed the test, we would receive our diploma, guaranteed a safe job because of our hard work in school.

Not anymore. The world is changing, switching from the safe corporate jobs to risky entrepreneurships. Many entrepreneurs and multi-millionaires do not have a college degree. How do they create value for society?

Enter the world of coding.

A computer programmer who can code effectively and efficiently will find better jobs and increase their critical thinking skills.

Can your children learn how to code today? Of course they can! Here are the top three reasons why your child should learn to code today:

1. Better Career Opportunities

Everyone uses a computer, but not every person knows how the computer works. Even if your child knows the basics of computer programming, he or she will know more about computers than 90% of the population. With that knowledge, your kids can create their own startups. They can create apps or new computer programs. Your child can sell their coding services to others. There are many opportunities for your child once they are equipped with basic coding skills.

Even if your child doesn’t like the idea of starting their own company and becoming an entrepreneur, employers are looking for coders every day. The job market is now geared towards students who have degrees in science, math, engineering and technology, or STEM. If your child can code on a computer, their future is safe, no matter what they do the rest of their life. The median salary for computer programmers is $75,550; not a bad payday for knowing how to code.

2. Greater Understanding of Technology

Find a job today that doesn’t use technology, computers, or the Internet. Farmers use satellites and GPS tracking to plant their crops. Google can show people how to do certain tasks, like blacksmithing. A 2013 study showed over 80% of Americans own a computer.

With experience in coding, your child can understand the inner workings of the computer and the Internet. Not only will your child be a computer mechanic, fixing code and making computers work, but they will also be the manufacturer, creating new programs and apps for the future. This greater understanding of technology will be useful later when technology becomes more sophisticated. Besides, your child can help you when your new smart phone doesn’t work (unless they are already helping you).

3. Increased Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is critical. Right now, in the United States, critical thinking is on the decline. Students are taught to memorize facts, then take those facts and apply them to the test. Their questions won’t be answered because teachers don’t have enough time to teach critical thinking skills.

When taught correctly, math, science and technology can increase your child’s critical thinking skills. Coders use these skills every day. They are always looking for ways to see where their code fails so they can solve their problems one step at a time. They ask questions like,

What is the next step?

Ok, this doesn’t work. Now what?

Computers do not care if Sally took away your banana; either the code works or it doesn’t. How will your children attack these problems?   

These problem-solving skills will translate to any aspect of your child’s life. Even if they never touch a computer code again, your child will attribute those same skills to solve other problems in their life.

Kids will understand technology better, become awesome critical thinkers and create more job opportunities when they learn how to code. If your child wants to learn how to code, take them to VisionTech camps this summer. We will provide a unique experience for your child, showing them how to build some cool apps and computer games, all using the power of computer codes.

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5 Reasons Girls Need Computer Camps https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/5-reasons-girls-need-computer-camps/ Thu, 28 Apr 2016 01:43:39 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25805 The post 5 Reasons Girls Need Computer Camps appeared first on Vision Tech Camps.

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“Computer camps are just for boys.” “Only geeks and nerds go to computer camp.” These common misconceptions stand between many girls and the potential to acquire incredible skills that they’ll use for the rest of their lives. All too few girls choose to go into professions that include coding, programming, or cybersecurity–and these rapidly growing professions need all the potential applicants they can get. If there’s a young lady in your life who is showing interest in computers, there six very good reasons why computer camp is a great experience for her.

Computer Camp Makes it Fun

At computer camp, it’s not just about sitting behind a computer screen and learning skills. Kids will put together coding and programming skills while playing Minecraft, using Lego Robotics programs, and more. Girls need this just as much as boys do. When they enjoy the skills they’re learning, they’ll be more likely to dive in, study it, and make it part of their lives, encouraging them to pursue careers in this industry. Computer camp erases the misconception that all computer professions are about sitting behind a computer, producing lines of code that are complete gibberish to most of the world. Instead, it invites girls and boys alike to discover what important computer professions really entail.

Girls Need More Role Models

When they attend computer camp, girls will be surrounded by the role models they need to enhance their own interest in computer skills. Those role models have been comparatively slim in past years, with hacking and other professions described as a “man’s world.” Many girls are discouraged, not by a difficult industry, but by one in which their gender is ignored or downplayed in favor of boys. At computer camp, boys and girls will be encouraged equally and presented with equal opportunities for learning and advancement. There are a growing number of women within computer science fields who are making incredible advancements to the industry. The problem is, many girls don’t have access to them.

The Many Uses of Technology

Today’s society relies heavily on technology in many fields, from education to healthcare and more. Many people, in fact, fail to realize just how critical computer skills are to every area of society. When they attend computer camp, girls will have the opportunity to embrace that technology, gaining the skills they need to be even more successful in their chosen fields.

Girls Are Brought Together

Girls thrive on social interaction, and many of them aren’t on board with being simply “one of the boys.” They want to be surrounded by other young ladies–and at computer camp, they’ll come together with other girls who share their interests. Bringing girls in with their friends is one of the first steps to encouraging computer literacy in girls. While they might not be able to bring their best friend with them when they walk into computer camp, they’ll make new friends who will help encourage their interests and let them know that they’re not alone as they pursue these critical skills.

More Than a Word Processor

By the time they reach middle school, many girls already experience a significant gap in their knowledge and understanding of technology compared to their male peers. They’re ready to dive in and use it as a word processor or perhaps for an internet search or two, but they don’t have the skills necessary to take it further. At computer camp, however, girls will gain those skills and many more.

For girls who show an interest in technology, programming, coding, and more, computer camp is the perfect opportunity to refine those skills and gain knowledge that they’ll use for a lifetime. If you’re ready to send the young lady in your life to computer camp or you want to learn more, contact us today for more information. Girls need technology, and the face of advancing technology needs girls more than ever before. We’re here to bring them together.

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STEM Education 101 for Parents https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/stem-education-101-for-parents/ Thu, 14 Apr 2016 01:40:53 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25802 The post STEM Education 101 for Parents appeared first on Vision Tech Camps.

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We know that parents lives are constantly bombarded with information regarding their childrens education. Lately, schools have tried to implement a lot of STEM Education into their classrooms – but there is simply not enough time to delve deeply enough into these subjects. At VisionTech, we offer STEM camps such as Robotics, Programming, and Engineering that allows kids to further investigate STEM subjects. To understand STEM summer Camps, we want to first explain what is STEM Education. With that in mind, we’ve come up with seven tips that we call STEM Education 101 for parents.

  • What Is STEM Education? STEM education uses an interdisciplinary approach to teaching that provides instruction on demanding academic precepts alongside real-world applications. The goal is to prepare students for the future careers in fields involving science, math, and technology. In an increasingly competitive world, kids need a stronger foundation in mathematics and science – not only for their careers, but for future interest in entrepeneurship as well.
  • What Are the STEM Foundation Courses? The acronym “STEM” stands for science, technology, engineering, and math education. These are the core concepts that link many job fields together – allowing people to collaborate and work together on complex projects involving these fields. Likewise, students can learn an incredible amount about subjects such as mathematics, which can be boring, while learning technology subjects such as programming or game design – while having fun. For example, if a child is learning to design a video game, they must first comprehend the concepts of three dimensional cartesian coordinates and vector mathematics. These are difficult mathematical concepts, but in a game design environment, kids don’t feel overwhelmed by the theory of the subject, but are motivated by the desire to complete their game project.
  • STEM Promotes Math and Science Proficiency: Studies have shown that children immersed in the STEM core subjects from a young age perform better in math and science than those who are not exposed to STEM education. In addition, anecdotal evidence has shown that children immersed in STEM education graduate from high school in greater percentages and often go on to follow math or science in college and later in careers. At VisionTech summer camp, kids can immerse themselves in a variety of STEM subjects, such as engineering camp, where 3D Printing – a necessity for many future engineering careers – is introduced to students along with 3D modeling software. At this camp, students not only design their 3D models, but also learn engineering concepts such as scale models and iterative design.
  • STEM Activities at Home: Even at home, kids can engage in a variety of STEM activities with simple household goods – for example, kids can learn about structural engineering while playing with LEGO or K-NEX. While building LEGO structures, parents can have a discussion about shapes, scaling, and strength – or challenge their kids by restricting the number and type of pieces kids can use to build a skyscraper. More complex engineering concepts can be discussed with LEGO gears – teaching kids about gear ratios, torque, and speed.
  • Learning Computer Languages: Early exposure to programming languages teaches children how to bridge the digital and physical worlds – for example in our LEGO robotics summer camp, kids not only learn to design their robot, but program it using a graphical programming language – thus visually connecting the commands they write to the result on the robot. As kids progress, they can learn more complex programming languages including Python, Java, and C. We are also in the age of the Internet of Things, where all household items are becoming “smart” and integrate with our smartphones, our homes, and our cars – necessitating an increasing need for our children to be technologically savvy. By nature, our children are extremely curious, and are capable of learning these technologies on their own, but at VisionTech, we guide them to a more complete understanding of any subject matter they’re interested in. Programming – while taught rote might seem boring – but at VisionTech, we combine programming with fun projects such as modding a game, creating a virtual simulation, or teaching a drone to fly – in order to show students both the real world applications of programming, and to inspire them into tech fields.
  • Mixing Artistic Design with Robotics: For those of us brought up with printers that were little more than glorified copiers, it may take a bit of imagination to think of a printer as a synthesizer but that’s what a 3D printer is: an industrial — synthesizing — robot. Some scientists think that 3D Printing is a forerunner of a third industrial revolution. In the future, workers will send a blueprint anywhere in the world to a 3D Printing robot that will combine and layer special inks to manufacture any type of three-dimensional object. At VisionTech’s engineering camps, we show students the possibilities of 3D printer in order to inspire the critical thinking that we need to bring new world inventions to fruition.
  • Engineering Technology: At VisionTech, we keep our technology current – Legos 30 years ago were one step up from the building blocks of yesteryear, but today, even LEGO has embedded technology such as robotics into their LEGO platform. Today, Lego Robotics courses teach children to design robots using engineering concepts – a step up from simply designing structures.

To talk more about STEM, or VisionTech’s enrichment summer camps with engineering, robotics and programming components, or anything else, please contact us. We look forward to helping you prepare the children in your life for the challenges of their future.

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Demystifying Computer Camps https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/demystifying-computer-camps/ Mon, 11 Apr 2016 01:38:07 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25798 The post Demystifying Computer Camps appeared first on Vision Tech Camps.

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Are you looking for the perfect summer camp for your kids? There are many different types of camps to choose from, but how do you know that you are choosing the right one for your child? Are you thinking about sending your child to a technology summer camp? Let’s take a few minutes to demystify computer camps so you can make the right choice for your kid. There are some common misconceptions about computer camps that sometimes stop parents from considering them for their kids. Here are a few of those misconceptions, and why you can’t believe the stereotypes.

Computer Camp is where you look at a computer all day. Courses at our camps include exciting topics like 3D Game Design in Minecraft, Lego Robotics, engineering, and 3D printing. Campers are introduced to upcoming technologies as they participate in hands-on projects throughout the week. There are exciting things happening in modern technology, and our camps allow kids to fully immerse themselves in the next generation of technology.

Computer Camps are just for nerds. There is a long held misconception that only nerds go to computer camp, but that’s simply not true. Have you ever seen a kid program a robot to complete tasks? It’s cool! There is an excitement when they write a program to make their robot do exactly what they want. It sparks an interest of the engineering design process and coding – and an interest to explore technology careers in the future. While kids play with robots, they are engaged in the learning process, and having fun! After all – learning is supposed to be fun, and our summer camps are the best kind of fun! Technology is literally everywhere and allowing kids to understand how that technology works empowers them to understand the world around them more.

Only boys go to computer camps. Although in the past computer science has been dominated by males, females are beginning to get more involved in STEM fields. Even The White House recognizes STEM as an important field for women. President Obama has said, “One of the things that I really strongly believe in is that we need to have more girls interested in math, science, and engineering. We’ve got half the population that is way underrepresented in those fields and that means that we’ve got a whole bunch of talent…not being encouraged the way they need to.”

More and more girls across the country are learning to code, competing in robotics competitions, designing video games, and learning about 3D printing. Guess what, they are good at it. Not only are they good at it, they are beginning to see that not only are tech jobs lucrative, they are fun as well. Did you know that 52% of gamers are women? Isn’t it natural for girls to develop skills to design their own game as well? Vision Tech’s summer programs are designed to spark that interest in girls whether it be video game design, robotics, or engineering.

Computer camps are just like school. At computer camps, campers will have access to the coolest toys and the best computers – along with curriculum designed for fun – not just student grades. Did you ever get to play with robots at school or learn more about Minecraft? At computer camp your kids will move past the theory of technology to the actual hands on part. Remember when you were able to close the book in science class and actually work in the lab? Computer camp is kind of like that, but it’s actually a lot more fun. When kids begin to understand how technology works, they become more curious and they actually want to learn. They learn because they are actually interested in the topic and they want to know more.

Vision Tech offers many different camps during the summer. We can help you find the right one for your child. We have multiple locations and dates throughout the summer months. Please contact us if you have any questions or if you would like more information.

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Python vs Java – What should my child learn? https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/python-vs-java-what-should-my-child-learn/ Wed, 06 Apr 2016 01:33:28 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25794 A question we are often asked by parents interested in having their kids learn coding is simple – should my child learn Python programming or Java programming? To understand the answer to this, its important to realize that while this decision might seem overwhelming, most programmers eventually learn both languages – the key question is […]

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A question we are often asked by parents interested in having their kids learn coding is simple – should my child learn Python programming or Java programming? To understand the answer to this, its important to realize that while this decision might seem overwhelming, most programmers eventually learn both languages – the key question is more along the line of which language is better to learn coding with, and what language they’ll be using most at school or university.

What can you do with each language? Which language is easier?

Because both Java & Python are high level languages, almost any task from web development to games to enterprise programming can be done easily in both languages. What does it mean for a language to be “high-level”? To put it simply, the higher level a language, the more the programmer can concentrate on the logic of a program, and less on the intricacies of making it work on a computer. In comparatively low level languages, the programmer must deal with concepts such as addressing memory, whereas in comparatively high level languages, all these problems are handled automatically by the coding language.  In exchange, in general, the higher level a language, the less efficient the code (usually) is.

While Java and Python are both categorized as “high level” languages, Python is usually considered a higher level language than Java – meaning that while it is not suitable for certain tasks such as building complex 3D games, it is easier to learn coding with it.

Does that mean that Python is superior to Java?

In a word, no. A language being higher level or lower level merely refers to how much of the core computing tasks such as memory allocation and garbage collection are handled by the programming language itself, instead of by the programmer. A language being low level does not make it an inferior programming language.

Which language is used most in school?

Currently, Java is the de facto standard language in use at high schools due to its use in the AP Computer Science exam. As a result, the majority of classes in high school focus on teaching the Java language. For most students who are interested in preparing for an upcoming AP class, and subsequently, the AP Computer Science exam, should probably consider mastering Java if only for this reason.

On the flip side, Python is often used in universities due to its flexibility in paradigms – Python can quite easily be used in a variety of different programming paradigms that are taught in university level. While languages such as Scala and LISP often were used for this role in the past, Python is rapidly becoming more popular for this purpose at the university level.

For any student who aspires to pursue a career or degree in computer science, a good understanding of both languages is probably necessary.

I want my child to learn both languages, but which should they learn first?

In the case where you’re deciding which language to learn first, for a student with no background in programming, Python is probably the easiest due to its interactive shell – a feature for which there is no good equivalent in Java. The interactive shell allows students to learn about many programming concepts in real time by coding right into the interactive shell, rather than writing it all out before finally reading the result.

In addition, Python’s syntax involves less “boilerplate”, or repeated code that would likely confuse a first-time programmer. While a motivated student is perfectly capable of learning Java or even lower level languages as their first coding language, in our experience we have seen that in general, most students prefer to start learning programming using Python.

 At VisionTech, we offer Python programming camps and Java programming camps both – which feature curriculums designed to teach students in a real and engaging way – using projects that allow students to immediately see the result of their coding. Our 2016 Summer camps are currently open, and these camps can be viewed below.

Java Camp

Python Camp

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Tech Camps for Kids & Teens – Finding The Perfect Summer Camp https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/tech-camps-for-kids-teens-finding-the-perfect-summer-camp/ Tue, 05 Apr 2016 01:31:26 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25792 The post Tech Camps for Kids & Teens – Finding The Perfect Summer Camp appeared first on Vision Tech Camps.

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Every year as Spring approaches, parents start their search for that perfect summer camp that’s a great fit for their child. Whether it be a sports camp, speech & debate camp or a tech camp. It is a great time to be a kid – with so many choices available, especially in the bay area, parents can create the perfect blend of memorable summer camp experience for their children. One or two weeks in educational type camps and few weeks relaxing at an outdoor camp or exploring other hobbies. Voila! You have a perfect summer.

Tech camps are a new breed of summer camps that only became popular in last 10 to 15 years. With so many technologies from iPads to smart phones in kids hands, it makes sense that they not only learn using these tech toys, but design with them too. Enrolling in just one week of summer tech camp a kid can learn the basics of video game design to even designing and printing a 3D object. Kids can explore many fields of technology not available to them in a regular school environment. This tech knowledge is not just for fun, these are fundamental tech skills that kids will use in school projects, competitions and for personal growth throughout their life time. These tech camps offer that perfect balance of hands-on and focused time to delve deeper into a subject that they are curious about.

Vision Tech Danville Center

At Vision Tech we keep our camp size small, and provide each child with their own computer and material to be used during camps. Also, having a permanent tech lab – not a pop-up type – allows us to maintain and set up our equipment better, that means less downtime for technical difficulties.

For example, in 3D Printing camps printers needs to be set up and working before camps starts or kids will not have access to the printer until the printer is fully set up and calibrated – a process bound to take many hours. Robotics camp is an another example where not only you want to be ready for that first programming lesson before camp starts but have a set up ready for robotics tournaments’ that will allow kids to practice their coding skills.

The ways we learn technology has also changed. For example, in old day if someone wanted to learn to code they would straight dive into writing up a short command line for very uninteresting results as “Hello World.” Now kids have unimaginable tech tools. They can learn to code by modding Minecraft code in Minecraft Camps or start learning programming by coding their robots in Robotics Engineering camps. If they are into Video Games they can try creating a next hit like Flappy Bird. Now that will make any parent proud!

Teaching technology to kids requires that the curriculum be child friendly and fun. Kids learn best when they are having fun. Many of our tech camps such as Minecraft, Video Game Design, even programming courses are loved by kids because we make it fun by designing curriculum that involves them making or designing fun tech solutions of their own creation. They are the creators of the material they take home after camps are over.
We can only achieve such positive summer experiences for kids by hiring teachers who are not only experts at what they are teaching, but understand that real learning comes by doing. They must have both passion and patience to teach kids. Therefore, our instructors encourage kids to be creative and explore new ideas without any reservations.  I am amazed and thrilled every summer to see kids original work and their creativity – be it be a video game they designed or a new mod they coded in Minecraft Camp. Whether it is an Engineering camp or video design camp or a programming camp – a good summer tech camp can catapult a child’s enthusiasm to learn a tech subject to a new level.

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Parents and Kids are you ready for 2016 summer camp season!! https://www.visiontechcamps.com/blog/parents-and-kids-are-you-ready-for-2016-summer-camp-season/ Sat, 02 Apr 2016 01:27:53 +0000 http://138.68.55.108/?p=25789   Vision Tech Summer Technology Camps 2015 Highlights: Kids making new wireless TNT canon and huge custom adventure map in 3D Game Design with Minecraft Kids made custom mob in the Minecraft Modding camp Kids Designing their own custom maps in Minecraft camp Arduino robot competition with kids building their own custom robot and programming […]

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Vision Tech Summer Technology Camps 2015 Highlights:

  • Kids making new wireless TNT canon and huge custom adventure map in 3D Game Design with Minecraft
  • Kids made custom mob in the Minecraft Modding camp
  • Kids Designing their own custom maps in Minecraft camp
  • Arduino robot competition with kids building their own custom robot and programming in Computer Science and Robotics Engineering Camp
  • Minecraft Camp for younger group of kids ( 7-9)
  • Working and installing Minecraft Modpack in Minecraft Mastery with Modpacks Camp
  • Kids programming their virtual robots in LEGO Robotics & Virtual programming Camp.
  • Kids setting up their own Minecraft Server with awesome survival game map and shops in Minecraft Server Set-up camp
  •  Kids designing and printing a catapult and yoyo in 3D printing camp
  • Kids design their own game controller and 3D printed their design

Arduino Robot

We were so proud of kids work and enthusiasm in participating in fun challenges. Again, thank you so much to all parents for taking the time out on Friday and celebrating kids success with us. We loved working with our kids in summer and looking forward to seeing all of them again in June.

So, what do we have for 2016 Summer Tech Camp at VisionTech!

Tech camps are becoming the ultimate place where kids & teen can explore learning new technology skills. From girls learning to code to the “Maker” and “Tinkering” phenomenon encouraging kids to design and print 3D objects. All camps are designed to be project-driven, hands-on programs that give campers a fun learning experience. Over the summer kids choose to participate in multiple different camp courses to create a unique blend of learning experience tinkering with Arduino to making mods for their favorite Minecraft game.

New Tech Camps for 2016 Summer:

Adventures in LEGO Robotics

Ages: 7-10| Week: June 13 – 17,2016 | Location: Danville and Saratoga

In this camp, kids take their LEGO designs to another dimension with robotics! Kids will use computers to build and program their robots. This camp is great for beginners and experienced users. Kids will build planes, boats, and rescue mechanisms, and then learn to write programs using a visual programming language to tell their robot what to do.

Adventures in Engineering & 3D Printing

Ages: 7-10 | Week: July 15-19, 2016 | Location: Danville

In Adventures in Engineering & 3D printing camp kids will get to explore different fields of engineering. Each day will be filled with kids creating innovative solutions for engineering challenges, exploring and building their own unique solutions and using a 3D printer to test, build, and iterate upon their solution. This camp is sure to be very popular with kids who are curious about building, testing, and taking things apart.

Adventures in Minecraft

Ages: 7-10 | Week: June 13-17, 2016| Location: Danville & Saratoga

This camp is for some who loves Minecraft and would love to learn how to take their Minecraft skills to another level. Kids will learn to build cities, vast fortresses, incredible caverns and more in Minecraft using the techniques of the best builders!

Coding & Video Game Design with Tynker

Ages: 7-10 | Week: June 27-July 01, 2016 | Location: Danville

In this camp, kids will learn to design and create their own video game using Tynker’s easy-to-use drag-and-drop development tools. Using Tynker’s visual code blocks, kids will create their own characters, add multiple levels, and transform their ideas into a game while learning how to program.

Campers in this programming camp will take home their Tynker and their games can be played on the web, iPhone, and Android devices.

3D Level Development with Team Fortress 2

Age: 13-17|Week: August 8-12, 2016

In this camp teens will explore level design with the award winning Team Fortress 2 from Valve! Using the Source 2 engine and the Hammer Editor, design environments, add effects, and create custom gameplay for your own maps for Team Fortress 2. Balance your maps for competitive multiplayer by choosing spawn locations, game objectives, health pickups, chokepoints and share your levels with others! At the end of camp, you will take home your levels and Steam Account with access to Team Fortress 2.

3D Game Design with Dota 2

Age: 13-17|Week: August 8-12, 2016

In this Game Design camp students will learn game development through the exciting world of DOTA 2! Campers will use the Source 2 gaming engine and the DOTA 2 workshop tools to create your own game modes and levels. Use the Lua Scripting language to customize your items and heroes to make a fun multiplayer experience.

2016 Summer Technology Camp Locations:

San Francisco East Bay

Danville,California

117 Town & Country Dr #B Danville, California

(easily commutable from Alamo, San Ramon, Dublin, Pleasanton, Livermore, Walnut Creek, Orinda, Moraga and Lafayette.)

Piedmont, California

800 Magnolia Avenue,
Piedmont, CA

(easily commutable from Oakland, Berkeley, Alameda, Emeryville and Orinda)

San Francisco South Bay

Saratoga, California

4375 Saratoga Avenue, Suite 104

Saratoga, California, 95070,

(easily commutable from Los Gatos, San Jose, Cupertino, Palo Alto, Los Altos, Sunnyvale, mountain View, Los Altos Hills and Santa Clara)

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