I taught my Maryland summer camp in Effie and Jason’s home and got to know their son Evan quite well.
September 25, 2005
Our 10-year old son Evan participated in Winston’s Lunar Repair Yard game programming course in July, 2005, with five other children. Winston provided everything they needed for the course, and in two weeks they learned a tremendous amount. Games use many ideas common to all graphics software drawing to the screen, responding to typed input or mouse clicks, making decisions based on user input. By the end of the course, the kids had a great foundation for creating any graphical software, and since the development software is public domain Evan has been able to continue on his own since that time, He is still reading his Python book, writing programs, and talking about how wonderful the course was.
The Lunar Repair Yard was conducted in our basement studio, so we had quite a bit of interaction with Winston and his students. It was simply remarkable how well he kept their interest throughout the day. The students were six normally-rambunctious boys, but he was able to keep them focused for hours of learning and creating. The students worked both independently and together, so Winston was able to give each of them individualized help as well as guiding the class as a whole, and the students could help each other as well as collaborating on group projects. But it’s not boot camp: the programming day was leavened with bicycling or swimming to give the kids some physical as well as mental activity. There was also plenty of free time for the kids to play computer games and to interact with each other. All in all the program was designed remarkably well to maximize both learning and enjoyment.
Winston himself has terrific programming skills, but what sets him apart is his deep interest in mentoring and in communicating his love of programming to others. He always remained calm and patient, but he quietly expected the best behavior. Very rapidly the kids rose to the occasion and could be treated as adults. By the end of the class they had recognized him as a role model as well as a teacher and friend.
All in all, we recommend the course enthusiastically and without reservation. Winston has put a huge amount of thought and preparation into his work, and it’s paid off. I can’t imagine a more enjoyable way to launch a child into analytical and creative endeavors.
Jason and Effie K.