Maker Camp - Week 1: Wake Up

The first in our series of college prep maker camps. Learn to tell time by making an electronic alarm clock.

Step one for any successful day is to wake up. The trouble is that waking up is hard. The inability to track time in one's sleep and the reluctance to get out of bed has challenged humanity for a very long time. The ancient Greeks solved this problem by inventing hydraulic alarm clocks, a feat that very few of us would have the ingenuity to consider. Today we rely on electrons to count the passing of time, and at the cost of $10 for an alarm clock, it must not be very difficult, right?

Students in this camp are going to make their own Raspberry Pi powered alarm clock. One that can be set using analog buttons or through a web interface, beautifully enclosed in your own 3D printed housing, and interfaced with the web, able to wake you up at a time synchronized by your Google calendar to an alarm of your choosing. What would be more likely to wake you up, a randomized poetry reading, or a reading of the top ten Tweets of the day? When you build your own alarm clock, it doesn't just have to wake you up, it could help put you to sleep as well. Wire a pressure sensor to your pillow, and at the appropriate time use it to play soothing music at a gradually decreasing volume or maybe you'd rather be proposed a random philosophical question to ponder as you doze off.

By making this clock, you'll gain first hand experience in:

  • hydraulics and sound
  • electronic components 
  • Raspberry Pi
  • through-hole and surface mount soldering 
  • Python programming
  • Flask API
  • fundamentals of computation
  • the Linux command line
  • 3D printing

Each camp is 5 days and 6 nights long and is led by two highly experienced maker educators at Vector Space. A chaperone will manage students before and after Vector Space hours, and a local guide will lead students through cultural experiences at various Lynchburg events and locations.

General Schedule

Students arrive on campus Sunday, July 12th. Check-in begins at 2pm, and a welcome dinner will take place that evening, where students will meet their fellow campers, chaperone, instructors, and cultural guide. For Monday through Friday, the general schedule is as follows.

07:00 - 08:30       Wake-Up and Breakfast
08:30 - 09:00       Bus to Vector Space
09:00 - 11:45       Vector Space program
11:45 - 12:30       Lunch and guest speaker
12:30 - 16:30       Vector Space program
16:30 - 17:00       Return to campus
17:00 - 18:00       Relaxation & Personal Time
18:00 - 19:00       Dinner
19:00 - 21:00       Evening Activity
21:00 - 21:30       Final Check-in
21:30 - 07:00       Room Curfew

Students check out Saturday morning after breakfast.


The table below gives a look at how the day-to-day content is organized.





9 - 11

How we tell time (water, pendulums, oscillators)

11 - 12

Electronics introduction


Field Trip to visit IWT electronics lab

1 - 430

Circuit building


Recreational activities on campus


9 - 1130

Raspberry Pi Introduction


Lunch and Guest speaker (Framatome)

12 - 430

Python programming


Bike rental and ride on the Blackwater Trail


9 - 230

3D modeling with FreeCAD

230 - 430

3D Printing


Cultural Event with The Listening 


9 - 1130

Build a Flask App


Lunch and Guest speaker (Harris Corporation)

1230 - 430

Program a clock


Dinner Downtown


9 - 930


1030 - 1130

Final clock construction 

1130 - 1230

Lunch and Guest Speaker (Entrepreneur/Inventor)

1230 - 430

Implementation, testing, and tweaking


Riverfront Park Concert




Lynchburg is located in Central Virginia and accessible by car via several major interstates, by train via Amtrak service, and by plance via American Airlines into Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH). 

Housing Location

Private University in
Lynchburg, VA

Program Location

Vector Space
402 Fifth St.
Lynchburg, Virginia, 24504


Three meals a day are provided for students and staff. Breakfast will be provided in the cafeteria on campus, lunch will be at Vector Space or during site visits. On most evenings dinner will be in the dining hall, but two dinners will be at restaurants in downtown Lynchburg.

Room and Board

Students will reside on the campus of Randolph College, with two students per room. Genders are divided by floor. Please let us know if your student has any special needs in regard to their rooming.

Students wishing to attend consecutive weeks will need additional accomodations for Saturday morning through Sunday afternoon. A list of potential host families is available upon request.


This camp is for rising college freshmen throughout the country.

Some experience with basic hand tools (hammer, drill, screwdrivers, etc) is expected, but far more important is your work ethic and ability to work independently. Prior technical knowledge is not expected or required; instructors will lead students through lessons to be followed by independant application of skills learned.


The registration fee for this program covers housing, all meals, the course, supplies, and cultural activities from Sunday evening through Saturday morning. Airfare, transportation to and from the airport, meals purchased outside the program, and personal shopping are not included in this cost.

Student registration is processed on a first-come, first-served basis and guaranteed upon final payment. Payments are refundable until April 1st, 2020, after which they become non-refundable.

Payments are made through PayPal under the Registration tab.

Learn More

We have written a high-level post about our Summer 2020 Maker Camps here. This post includes details about the camp host, Vector Space, as well as our boarding partner and the city of Lynchburg, VA. 

For a deep dive into our educational philosophy and beliefs, click here.

Our Sponsor

This program is generously funded by Cognizant's Making the Future program, which seeks to inspire young learners to pursue science, technology, engineering and math disciplines by creating fun, hands-on learning opportunities.

July 12th, 2020 10:00 AM   through   July 18th, 2020 6:00 AM
402 Fifth street
Lynchburg, VA 24504-2450
United States

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Phone: 4345151584
Event Fee(s)
Student $ 1,100.00