We look forward to every Summer at SkilStak because it is an opportunity to really have fun. Summer is the one time we prioritize having fun slightly over learning (although learning is always a thing here). It is also when we can really make a mess and leave it out over night, which is good if you want to make a robot or other engineering project. After all SkilStak camps are just another form of learning lab.
As you consider Summer activities for yourself or your child make sure to weigh the value of the time spent learning something that has been created "for educational purposes" only, v.s. a skill or tool legitimized by the industry itself. You might not be in a position to know the difference, but we definitely are. Everything any learner takes away from SkilStak is something a professional would use today. It doesn't make them necessarily harder or less approachable, just requires a different approach, an approach we've spent five years crafting and honing into what has become the unique SkilStak learning experience.
This camp celebrates all the awesomeness of creating and programming your own maps and games in Minecraft and Roblox, two of the most creative and educational games in existence today (parent's be proud if your child is attracted to either). Lua is the language of the game modding community so learning it applies to many other things.
We will both build things in local private worlds as well as our collective private SkilStak server where you can share and collaborate.
Typing 10 words per minute is required. Roblox requires a free account.
Learning to create and run your own Minecraft server is also covered for those who want their own server on which to host their own worlds much like Hypixel and Mineplex. Campers can create their own host in the "cloud" for anyone to join, bring their own machine to put it on, or borrow one of our machine for the duration of the camp.
This camp is also good for those who might want to host their own servers of other kinds (game, web, etc.)
Penetration testing is hacking your own system to find security flaws. In this camp we learn about Linux and some of the more common flaws and break into a "honeypot", then, time granting, we divide into teams and play a little capture the flag, cyber-security style.
This camp requires campers to already have had some command line experience, preferably on Linux or Unix.
In this camp we use the number one 3D gaming engine, Unreal Engine, to create a simple map and modify it by coding it with some C++. We will cover the essentials of C++ initially as we design the maps. (This requires some initial experience with programming already.)
This camp is focused on helping campers learn to host their own servers at home, either to play multi-player games with family, or to allow anyone on the Internet to join in, safely.
In this maker camp campers program the stuff they make. Three kits are available that campers can choose to build:
Campers can work on one or more projects to tinker with things such as LED lights, robotic arms, stepper spinning motors, radio FM transmitters, and sensors (heat, sound, acceleration, etc.)
Here's the things campers will learn:
Typing at least 10 words per minute is required. Campers as young as seven have signed up in the past, but this year it will be a full eight hour day for five days a week so parents should take this into consideration.
Phaser is the leading replacement to the former Adobe Flash for making amazing 2D game experiences and visualizations within the web browser (as well as stand alone games suitable for placement on Steam using Electron). Campers learn to create a Phaser 2D Web game without any tools but an editor and a web hosting service (the real way, not with App Inventor or some educational substitute). Campers leave with a game of their own creation that they can share and improve upon.
Previous experience programming—particularly for the Web—is not required but highly recommended.
The first computer game ever made was a text adventure. Now we have visual novels in Ren'Py and more. Times have changed, but this game genre continues to be entertaining while promoting good creative writing skills as well as good coding techniques and practice. Campers leave with the framework of a Python game that they can continue to expand on and share with friends and family. This is real code using real approaches such as:
This isn't a bunch of
if/else statements strewn together in a spaghetti monster. This reinforces sustainable, solid approaches to coding complex, expandable narratives that are engaging for the creator and player.
However, even if you have never coded before you can join this camp. We assume nothing other than 10 words per minute typing ability. Of course, having had a little coding helps.
Go was created by Google back in 2009 and released to the world in 2012. It has since risen to widespread use as one of The 2 Highest-Paying Programming Languages You (Maybe) Never Heard Of (according to Forbes magazine). Go is Mr. Rob's personal favorite language and has become the hottest language in the world of virtualization, containers, and microservices (originally conceived and promoted by Jeff Bezos at Amazon). If that means nothing to you, just know Go is an amazing language with an even more amazing future (Forbes agrees).
But we are going to just have fun with it in this camp. We will learn Go Essentials in the first day or two and then make a Discord chat bot out of it with as much of the time that we have left. Don't worry, you will get it working and should be able to understand most of the coding. If you don't, that's ok, you will have a start that you can study later as you improve your skills. The best way to learn programming is to do it.
For this camp you really need to type at least 24 words a minute. Coding experience is definitely a plus, but not required.