Continuum of Connectivity

I believe we do not have as much of an achievement gap as we do an opportunity gap and to overcome the digital divide, youth need access to both technology and technology education.

Yesterday, we hosted a special showcase that highlighted the power of partnerships between public, non-profit, and private organizations. The focus of the event was on how all of us working together can create a continuum of connectivity, building opportunities to successfully go from the classroom to one’s career!

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David Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, addressing attendees.

The youth had a great time showing off their projects to all of our special guests, including:

Also in attendance were representatives from Baltimore City Public Schools, Office of the City Council President, Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore, Maker Education Initiative, Johns Hopkins University, Exelon, the Abell Foundation, the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, the Bowe-Stewart Foundation, CyberPoint, KeyTech, and more!

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DHF youth Amiri & Darius showing off their hard work to Governor Martin O’Malley, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Comcast’s David Cohen, and Andrew Coy.

Check out more about the day any of the links below:

We are really grateful to ALL of our supporters who help make everything we do at the Digital Harbor Foundation possible! Without your help, we would not have been able to create so many opportunities for youth here in Baltimore, nor would we be able to help affect the larger conversation. Special thank for the recent support from:

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Governor Martin O’Malley with DHF youth presenter Samuel.

12 Year Old Bella Releases Her First iOS and Android Game

Download from the App Store Get it on Google Play

Bella got her first taste of mobile game development at the Digital Harbor Foundation’s summer Maker Camp series in 2013. As an 11-year-old, she was one of the youngest youth in the camps, but also one of the most enthusiastic and ambitious. It was expected that most youth would take an entire week to complete the sample project, if not longer. She completed the self-paced curriculum in only 3 days.

During the rest of the camp, Bella worked on coming up with her own game idea and began working on it. Using artwork provided by Vicki Wenderlich of Game Art Guppy, “Monkey Mayhem” was born and a playable demo was ready for the youth showcase in only 7 days.

Bella during Camp

This was not your typical drag and drop development environment used by most youth her age, Bella used true programming techniques and tools to write real code which created her game. It totaled nearly 1,300 lines of code (1,291 to be exact)! Similar tools are being used by professional companies such as Mindgrub, and to create games such as “Thomas & Friends: Mix-Up Match-Up“, and “Truffula Shuffula” the official app for Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax movie.

Bella's Code

Last Fall, Bella joined the Digital Harbor Foundation’s after school program and continued working to add polish to her game with the hopes of eventually publishing it in the app store. Along the way, she served as an inspiration for other youth and women in tech by speaking at the 2013 TEDxYouth@Baltimore and speaking on a panel at the DC Mini Maker Faire.

Bella Speaking to Inspire

After over a year of working on her game (in between playing soccer, going to school, giving two public talks about making, working on two other projects, and being a youth), her game was ready to submit to the app stores! Bella put together all of the marketing paragraphs and materials, and completed the application to submit the app for approval at Apple and patiently, or at least as patient as any youth can be, waited for word from Apple.

Bella's Waiting for Approval

Apple initially rejected the name of Bella’s game and she had to brainstorm a new name that would still go with the main menu and theme of the game. After a few swings and misses, she finally came up with a name that Apple accepted and it was published in the store on August 22, 2014. It’s now available in the Google Play store as well.

Download from the App Store Get it on Google Play

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3D Printing for Educators Workshop

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Here at Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center, we not only help young makers discover a new world of technology, but we assist and train educators in replicating a innovative maker program for their own workspaces. In August, I had the chance to assist Shawn and Stephanie Grimes, on their 3D Printing for Educators workshop, which helped educators learn more about 3D Printing and software tools through a hands-on approach.

Over the course of four days, educators came together and learned as much about 3D printing and 3D design as we could cover! Most educators opted to purchase a Printrbot Simple Metal as an add-on to the workshop and learned how to operate this 3D printer and set it up during the workshop. The workshop introduced participants to a wide range of 3D design tools, the basics operation of their 3D printers, and how to use these skills and tools as part of their various education programs.

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Our participants rocked! This was the first workshop we have done for educators in this way and it was simply awesome. We had a great time meeting each participant and working together with them throughout the week. We also received great feedback about the workshop as well as lots of information about what to improve next time.

The workshop was absolutely fantastic, one of the best I have ever attend in my 15 years in education. You all are simply awesome. The plethora of resources that I will have access to is an added bonus and just shows your commitment and dedication to go above and beyond the call of duty. Thanks so much!! I really appreciate it!!”  - Baltimore City Teacher

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I think what made this workshop so successful, was the approachable and interactive delivery of the content and overall design of the workshop by Steph & Shawn, which ultimately made it fun to learn. If you have the chance to take this workshop, grasp the opportunity and if the workshop changes your outlook on learning, let it! We will be offering this workshop again in the near future, but we are still working on the plans for this. If you would like to be notified when details are ready, please sign up for our mailing list: DHF E-Newsletter

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Highlights From Family Make Night: Digital Postcards

Each month we host an event where local families can come and work on a maker themed project. We’ve had great success with this in the past and when we became a host site for Mozilla’s Maker Party initiative, we began to brainstorm a fun way to integrate Mozilla’s tools within the framework of Family Make Night. We decided that Popcorn Maker would be a fun, interactive choice to spread web literacy. We settled on the theme of digital postcards with the idea that families could create content based on what they did over the summer.

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Families were encouraged to bring summer photos and videos to make a completely custom postcard to share with family and friends. We didn’t want lack of media content to be a barrier of entry, so we put together a small collection of videos and photos of local attractions that families could use for their postcard.

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Two of our members, Amiri and Darius, volunteered to help our guests with any technical questions. They both did an excellent job and it was great to see our youth confidently assisting in the session. As this Family Make Night was more technically demanding than previous workshops, it was great to have the additional help!

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Our guests had a varying range of web expertise, but found that Popcorn Maker was intuitive and fun to use. We had the attending families tag their projects with “DHF-FMN” so that they could see and share with other guests. Everyone was excited to finish their projects and send their postcards to family and friends! As families were leaving the space, we heard them mention that they want to continue to explore everything that Popcorn Maker has to offer!

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As the night came to a close, families were eager to share their completed projects. Many of the attendees wanted to continue working on their projects when they got home,excited to be able to further explore their new Popcorn Maker expertise! We provided access to our tutorial and source material so that families could continue to create digital postcards once they left the center.

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We had a great time seeing everyone engaged in the activity and really exploring the strength of Popcorn Maker. It was exciting to be able to integrate the Mozilla Webmaker initiative into our Family Make Night this month.

Check out all the great postcards from the night!

 

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Seeking Volunteers to Lead Technology Workshops

Hey there! Have you ever wanted to get involved here at DHF? Do you have a skill-set or profession in Graphic Design, App Development, 3D Design, Systems, or Web Development or some other technology?  Now is your chance to get involved in DHF by leading a workshop for our youth! We are interested in a broad range of workshops dealing with all sorts of technology and maker skills. Our program runs each weekday from 4-6pm at the Tech Center located in Federal Hill. We are looking for adults who are interested in sharing what they know with a dedicated and intelligent group of youth who aspire to gain new skills.

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Below is a list of some of the possible workshop topics and desired categories, but if you have a workshop idea you would like to share, please don’t feel limited to what is listed here:

Email iman@digitalharbor.org if you are interested in leading a workshop for our youth at the Tech Center.

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Tutorial: Create a Digital Postcard!

Tonight you’ll be using Popcorn Maker, a multimedia creation tool developed by Mozilla as part of their Webmaker initiative. We’ll be creating a digital postcard that highlights the best parts of your summer by combining photos, audio, and video which can then be easily shared with family and friends. If you’ve brought your own photos and video you’re free to use those as your media material tonight. If not we’ve put together a collection of summer themed photos and videos that you can use to learn this fun tool!

Note: Clicking these screenshots will open a larger version in a separate browser tab.

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What You Will Need:

1. Computer with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. You’re free to use one of our Macbook Air laptops!

2. Webmaker account. We’ll walk through the sign-up, don’t worry!

3. Source videos and photos. If you’ve brought your own, that’s great. If not, we’ve provided several samples you can use.

Instructions:

1. Navigate to Popcorn Maker and click the ‘Sign In‘ button in the top right.

Popcorn Maker

 

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2. If you’ve brought your own media to upload, there are two additional steps to complete. If you’re going to use our content, jump to Step 3.

3. Popcorn Maker is split into three parts. The playback, the media layers, and the media browser.

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4. In the media browser, you’ll see a tab that says ‘+ Events‘ Events are any media other than video, which is managed in the Media tab. Here you can add Text, Popups, Images, and many other things. A lot of the fun comes from experimenting with these Events!

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Adding Images:

1. To quickly add images, navigate to the ‘Image‘ button in the Events tab. You’ll have two options for linking pictures: drag and drop or image url.

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Adding Video:

1. Now we’re ready to begin bringing video into Popcorn Maker! You can make an awesome postcard using just Events, but you can also quickly add video. We’ve put together a list of summer themed photos and videos that you’re free to use as additional material for your project. These links can be found on this page after the instructions.

Adding Layers:

1. You create the content of your postcard by layering the events and media on top of each other. The project timeline is a guide for you to see where you’re placing the media.

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This is an example of how I’ve layered the events and video. Some are overlapping and others are next to each other. Play around with the placement of your media to customize your postcard!

These are the basic tools you’ll need to create a great digital postcard! Experiment with the different events and layers!

Sharing Your Postcard:

1. When you’re ready to share, click on the Project tab on the far right.

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You’re now ready to create fun, custom postcards! The power of Popcorn Maker is the speed with which you can customize your projects, so make sure to experiment with the layout and have fun with the entire process!

Photo and Video Resources:

 

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Highlights From the Make & Remake Hackathon

The Tech Center had the exciting opportunity to be a Mozilla Maker Party 2014 Partner this summer, and on Friday August 22 we hosted a Make and Remake Hackathon for our Members! We decided on the theme because open sharing and remixing is such a central component of the Webmaker initiative. The event was designed to be a fun and unique challenge for the participants.

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Given that openness and creativity were the primary focus, the only requirement for the participants was that they would use Mozilla’s Webmaker Tools to create a project which would then be shared to the group and remixed by another attending participant. The tools allowed for a variety of projects such as interactive video with Popcorn Maker, quick and fun web design with Thimble, and mobile app development with Appmaker. Additionally, a fun resource tool named X-Ray Goggles allowed for users to inspect web source code and remix it with a quick click!

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After some instruction on the tools and an overview of the Make & Remake theme, our youth eagerly jumped into the development process. Multiple projects were created in the morning session, and the youth were encouraged to select peer projects to remix even before the afternoon ‘Remake’ phase.

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We tweeted and shared to Mozilla throughout the Hackathon and Mozilla was extremely pleased with the content that our youth developed! The youth enjoyed the open sharing aspect of the Hackathon, and the idea of remixing the work of their peers seemed to resonate well.

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Amber’s Introduction to Soldering was also a huge success! Throughout the Hackathon, groups of three youth split off to learn to solder. Amber provided an excellent workshop with content that is crucial for youth eager to develop their interests in electronics and soldering.

Our youth greatly enjoyed the day and the Make & Remake Hackathon was definitely a success! The attendees tagged their makes and remakes with “DHF-Make-Remake-Hackathon” so that their work would be easily searchable on the Mozilla Webmaker site. This was a fun day filled with great opportunities to MAKE with Mozilla’s tools, and the participants experimented with aspects of web design that they may not have otherwise attempted.

Here is the link to the collection of youth makes and remakes shared throughout the day:

DHF Make & Remake Hackathon!

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Family Make Night :: Digital Postcards!

Looking for some family fun? Enjoy working on projects together with your family? Join us for our monthly Family Make Night! For September Family Make Night, we will be creating digital postcards of our summer vacations!

Using a digital multimedia tool called Popcorn, each family will make a digital postcard including videos, photos, and audio to highlight the best parts of their summer vacation. Bring along your own photos and videos from summer to make a completely custom postcard to share with your family and friends. Or, if you prefer, we have put together a small collection of videos and photos of local attractions that you can use for your postcard.

While Family Make Night is created for people of all ages, this activity may be more difficult for younger participants, but they can definitely contribute their ideas as one of the teens or adults works the computer. Basic computer skills will do the trick for using this tool! 

This month, we are excited to host Family Make Night as a Mozilla Maker Party event! We’re excited to be partnering with Mozilla to celebrate teaching and learning the web with Maker Party. Through thousands of community-run events around the world, Maker Party unites educators, organizations and enthusiastic Internet users of all ages and skill levels.

September Family Make Night will be held Wednesday, September 3rd at 6:30pm at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. Family Make Night is FREE to participate, but we do ask that each family (up to 6 people) register ahead of time. More details are available on the Registration page below.

Register Here: www.familymakenight.com

We hope to see you there!

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Make & Remake Hackathon

As a Mozilla Maker Party 2014 Partner, we are excited to be hosting a Make & Remake Hackathon for our Tech Center Members on Friday August 22! Designed to be a fun and engaging event for our Tech Center Members after a summer of hard work on their Star Spangled Summer projects, the Hackathon will be a great end-cap to our summer here at the Tech Center.

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The Make and Remake Hackathon is an exciting opportunity to use Mozilla’s Webmaker Tools to MAKE something awesome – a web page, an app, or an interactive video! But, that’s not all! A unique challenge to this Hackathon is to turn your completed project over to a friend so they can then REMAKE your project to create something new!

Participants will work in the morning session to create a digital project using the Webmaker tools. In the afternoon session, everyone will swap projects with someone else to remix and remake the project into something new!

This Hackathon is sure to be fun for everyone and the perfect opportunity to learn something new with some easy to use digital tools!

 

ADDED BONUS! 

As an added bonus to this all day Hackathon event, Amber will be leading her Intro to Soldering Workshop throughout the day. For Members who are interested in learning to solder or pursuing electronics projects in the future, this workshop is a MUST-DO!

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Join us for the Introduction to Soldering workshop and make your very own blinky robot wearable! This workshop will introduce you to the basics of using a soldering iron, through-hole joints on a printed circuit board, and potential troubleshooting. After completing this workshop, you will have soldered your very own blinky robot wearable. This workshop also covers many of the requirements for the Soldering Badge that can be earned with a little extra work after completing this workshop.

 

Sign Up Today!

Members – we will need a count of who is planning to attend! To sign up for Friday’s awesome events – the Make & Remake Hackathon and/or the Introduction to Soldering workshop – please visit the Eventbrite page and follow the steps to register there: http://goo.gl/1XeuuO

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