Academy Descriptions

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Academies differ from year to year depending on faculty or instructor availability. Below are the descriptions of all academies that have been offered recently.

  • Advanced Coding (Grades 9-12)

    Students will design and develop their own games using Unity and C#. Unity is a 2D and 3D game engine, commonly used to produce games for desktop, mobile, and console platforms.  The session will begin with an introduction to object-oriented programming in C# (variables, decision making, loops, arrays, methods, classes), and then delve into using Unity to navigate scenes with 3D objects, handle physics with collision detection, and implement game logic. Students should have some prior exposure to programming. Students will demonstrate their projects at the end of the session, and judges will award prizes to the top projects.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn object-oriented programming concepts in C#
    • Learn how to manipulate scenes and 3D objects in Unity
    • Work in teams to design and develop a game 
  • Alternative Energy (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn how energy is consumed and current methods of producing it.  The focus will be on renewable energy and the challenges associated with moving to a renewable-based energy economy.  Throughout the week students will simulate energy demand for generation sources, assemble and test an electrical load bank, and learn to make power measurements.

    Variable energy sources will be discussed including solar, wind, and hydro.  Students will construct a small photovoltaic array as well as a small wind turbine.  Energy storage will be introduced in the form of a bank of rechargeable batteries.  Students will work in small groups to create a mini-power grid using the different sources and demands.  The groups will compete to determine which mini-grid is most efficient.

  • Adruino Robotics 

    Students are expected to have some experience in robotics and/or prior programming experience for this session. Participants will utilize basic 3D modeling software to design and build a robot chassis, and then learn to program the robot to accomplish simple tasks. Robotics will consist of an Acrylic base with an Arduino Micro-controller, servo and DC motors, battery, and various other electrical components. Once assembled, the robots will be programmed to move along desired paths, avoid obstacles, and navigate a maze.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Build and program an Arduino-based robot
    • Learn Arduino programming and how to use it to control robots
    • Program the robot to avoid obstacles and navigate a maze 
  • Creative Coding (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn how to write computer programs to manipulate graphics and sound, and how to create a computer game.  For example, students will learn how to draw graphics, animate images, play sound, and then use these skills to design and write their own game or digital media project. They will use the Scratch programming language developed at MIT, which is a graphical language that can be accessed through a web browser. Students will learn about variables, objects, events, decision-making, and repetition to develop a variety of games, ranging from platformers to shooters. These concepts will prepare students for other coding activities, such as programming robots, Arduinos, or websites. Students will demonstrate their projects to the class at the end of the session, and judges will award prizes to the top projects.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn fundamental programming concepts in Scratch programming language
    • Apply programming concepts to manipulate digital media
    • Create a game or digital media project 
  • LEGO Robotics (Grades 5-8)

    Similar to the other robotics sessions, students will design, build, and program a robot to complete a task. This session will use LEGO MINDSTORM® equipment to construct a robot. In small groups, students will assemble a robot to operate autonomously and compete to complete assigned tasks. This session is not designed for students with extensive previous experience in FIRST LEGO League robotics.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Build LEGO-based robotic mechanisms to manipulate objects
    • Design and construct a robot to solve a problem
    • Program a robot to perform tasks and compete in challenges without human control
  • LEGO Robotics for Ladies (Grades 6-8)

    Some research suggests that many girls thrive in an all-girl setting centered around cooperative learning and hands-on experiences, so we’re going to do just that.  This is the same session as “LEGO Robotics”, except it is only open to young ladies.  Like the co-ed version, this session is not designed for participants with extensive previous experience in FIRST LEGO League robotics.

  • LEGO Robotics Junior

    Can't wait any longer?  Start your UAA experience even earlier with an elementary version of our popular robotics program.  This session for our youngest participants provides a week-long experience with the LEGO “WeDo” system.  The ‘Juniors’ will get hands-on experience building machines and learning basic programming, while enjoying a setting of fun games and making new friends!

  • Shaking Buildings (Grades 8-12)

    This session is a variation of Structure Destruction. Students will learn about buildings and towers, and how they work. Each day will include instruction and discussion of the internal forces in various materials, such as wood, plastic, and metal, followed by 3D computer modeling, and hands-on construction of small buildings. The buildings will be "pushed" on to determine their stiffness, and mounted to a "shake table" to simulate an earthquake. Over the course of the week, students will design, analyze, and build a structure using balsa and basswood, to be tested for resistance to wind and seismic loads.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn how buildings work
    • Use 3D computer analysis to design structures
    • Complete hands-on construction of basswood structures
    • Apply wind and earthquake forces in a competition to find the best structure  
  • Structure Destruction (Grades 6-8)

    Students will learn about bridges, buildings, towers and how they work.  Each day will include instruction and discussion of the internal forces inherent in different materials, like wood, plastic, and metal, followed by 3D computer modeling, and hands-on construction of structural prototypes.  The prototypes will be subjected to destructive testing to determine their strength.  Students will learn about joint connections and adhesive materials such as epoxy and glue.  Over the course of the week, students will design, analyze, and build a bridge using basswood, which will be tested for strength and material efficiency.  

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn how bridges work
    • Use 3D computer analysis to design structures
    • Complete hands-on construction of basswood structures
    • Destroy their creation in a competition for the strongest structure

     

  • Tetrix Robotics (Grades 7-12)

    In this introduction to robotics, students will use FIRST-based TETRIX® robotics kits to design, build, and program a robot to complete a task.  Topics will include mechanical design, motors and actuators, how to manipulate objects, and programming to make their robot more self-aware. In small groups, students will assemble a robot to compete in user-piloted challenges such as obstacle courses, as well as programming the robot to operate autonomously.  (This session is not designed for students with extensive previous experience in FIRST Tech Challenge (FTC) robotics.)

    To summarize, students will:

    • Build TETRIX-based robotics mechanisms to manipulate objects
    • Design and construct a robot to solve a problem
    • Remotely control a robot to perform tasks and compete in challenges
    • Program a robot to perform tasks and compete in challenges without human control
  • Water Works (Grades 6-8)

    Do you know how important water is for our daily lives? Students will learn all about the properties and behaviors of water and how to move, store and get energy from water. The different ways humans interact with water and how engineers control it will be explored. Participants will construct and test methods for cleaning water, moving water, and using it to generate electricity.

    Projects include:

    • Learning how water can be stored and transported from location to location and through pipes, filters and canals
    • Designing and constructing a dam, an aquifer, and a pipe network
  • Wing Aerodynamics (Grades 6-8)

    Participants will gain experience in fundamental aerodynamics and state-of-the-art design and prototyping of aircraft wings. Students will generate an airfoil using digital tools, and complete their aircraft design using computer modeling software (SolidWorks).  They will fabricate a scaled aircraft prototype.  They will experimentally test their model in a wind tunnel under various flow conditions.  Flow will be visualized using laser-induced florescence, and the lift and drag forces on the airfoil will be measured.

    To summarize, students will:

    • Learn about theories of aerodynamics
    • Design and create an aircraft prototype
    • Test their aircraft prototype in a wind tunnel to determine its performance