Baltimore Youth Solve Transportation Problems with Digital Fabrication

Last week, DHF hosted our 6th FabSLAM Showcase as the culminating event for this cycle of the annual digital fabrication challenge. This year, during FabSLAM, Baltimore-area youth were prompted to identify a problem they might encounter using any form of transportation and then use digital fabrication methods, like 3D printing or laser cutting, to create a solution.

5th grader describes project to judge

On May 4th, 10 teams of youth in grades 5-11 from Baltimore and DC gathered at the DHF Tech Center to showcase their work to judges and each other. The finale showcase for FabSLAM is always exciting and inspiring and this year proved to be more of the same. Teams arrived ready to share their work with our equally enthusiastic team of judges who have the difficult task of selecting winners.

Our First Place prize was awarded to the Western High School TinkerDoves, for their high-tech bus stop design of improvements that could be made to the Penn North stop in Baltimore City. The judges were very impressed by their proposed solution to a hyper-local problem and one that they encounter on a daily basis on their commute to and from school.

WHS team presents project to FabSLAM judge

WHS team receiving 1st place prizes

Last year, second place was awarded to a Bryn Mawr School high school team, and this year Second Place was awarded to Mawrtian Nation 1, a Bryn Mawr School middle school team. Their project, The Seasick-Free Seat, used 3D printing to fabricate a prototype of a self-leveling chair that would be used on boats to allow “all people to have the most enjoyable sea-faring voyage possible.”

Bryn Mawr School team describes project to FabSLAM judge

Bryn Mawr School team with prize package and FabSLAM judge

Judges awarded Third Place to a DHF team, The Filamentors, for their Trash Collection Boat. The goal of their solution was to attach a fabricated net contraption to boats that are already traveling in the harbor to collect more trash.

Team Filamentors presenting FabSLAM project to audience

Filamentors presenting project to FabSLAM judge

Team Tabby Fab won the Fan Favorite vote from the audience for their Foldable Skateboard that they laser cut for easy storage in a backpack.

The remaining teams who participated had a great showing and we hope to have them all back next year! You can check out their projects here:

Ridgely Middle School FabSLAM team

Team: Ridgely 3D        School / Organization: Ridgely Middle School        Project: Console Trash Can

Greenhouse Turbine train

Team: Mawrtian Nation 2        School / Organization: Bryn Mawr School        Project: The Greenhouse Turbine Train

Fed Hill Prep team describing their FabSLAM project

Team: FabDestroyers        School / Organization: Federal Hill Prep Elementary        Project: Graphene Powered Hover Car

TGR Learning Lab sharing FabSLAM project with judge

Team: TGR Learning Lab        School / Organization: Cesar Chavez Public Charter School       Project: Fabulous Hovercar

Team Square One presents FabSLAM project

Team: Team Square One        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Key Collector with Breathalyzer

Bikers United sharing modified bike helmet

Team: Bikers United       School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Casco Fresco Helmet

 

A giant thank you goes out to our 2017 panel of Judges, without whom we could not run this program! We were honored to have so many judges representing many facets of a variety of industries.

In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSLAM 2017 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to MatterHackers, HatchboxBuildTak, LulzBot, DHF Print Shop, Direct Dimensions, and The Foundery for the generous donations of products, materials, and experiences that were awarded to all our teams.

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Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSLAM 2017! We hope to have you participate again next year! If you would like to see all our photos from the event, you can check them out here: FabSLAM 2017 Flickr Album

Youth Project: Raspberry Pi Time-Lapse Camera

Hi! I’m Bella Palumbi. I’ve been a member of the Tech Center for almost four years now, ever since I was eleven. In that time, I’ve worked on lots of different projects, including iPhone apps, websites, virtual reality experiences, and much more.

Recently, I made a Raspberry Pi Time Lapse Camera. A Raspberry Pi is little computer that you can program to do almost anything you want. They’re great for small projects because they are cheap, light, and versatile. For my project, the idea was to make a camera that takes a picture every few seconds. You can play all the pictures in a row to see a time-lapse of the user’s day.

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The first step in the project was to burn the correct .img file onto the SD Card, which would be inserted into the Pi. An .img is an operating system. I used a program called ApplePi Baker because I was using a Mac computer.

The next step was to prepare all the wiring. I needed to solder together many different components including a button, a switch, a battery, and, of course, the Pi itself. All the wires and components had to be connected in the right way. The Raspberry Pi is very small, and I was actually using the Pi Zero, which is even smaller. So it was hard to be extremely accurate with the soldering iron. I probably spent most of my time soldering and re-soldering the wires!

It’s cumbersome to carry around a jumble of electronics and wires, so the tutorial came with a 3D design file to print a case for the time-lapse camera. The easy part was printing the case. The hard part was fitting all the pieces inside. I spent about an hour rearranging little tiny components in a little tiny plastic box. A couple times, the solder holding the wires together broke and I had to re-solder them. When I finally got the box closed, I was praying that it would work.

It did! When I turned the device on, after it booted up, it started taking pictures every 15 seconds. That didn’t seem often enough, so I took out the SD card, plugged it into my laptop, and brought up the code. By changing just one number, I was able to set the time interval to 10 seconds. Then, I booted up the Pi again. Still too slow. So I set it to 5 seconds. That seemed about right. Just for fun, I also tried a 1 second interval. The LED that blinked whenever a picture was taken was solidly lit now. The Pi couldn’t process fast enough, and was barely able to shut down. Finally, I set the interval back to 5, the number that worked the best.

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All in all, it was a fun project. I’m sure there will be some really amazing time-lapse videos of projects that we work on at the Tech Center.

Maker Camp Recap: Circuit Circus

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The MiniMakers have been busy this summer making and creating!  We just finished our Circuit Circus Maker Camp and had a blast learning all about Circuits.  We started off camp by creating closed circuits to light up our bugs for our Flee Circus.

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Once we became familiar with closed circuits we added switches and buttons, creating open and closed circuits to our creations.

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You can’t talk about motors without creating Electromagnets for your Acrobats to swing from!

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Continuing into DC Motors we created Wiggling Animals to perform in our Circus.  Turning up all kinds of animals only seen in the NanoLab Circus!

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Vibrating Motor 1

MiniMakers can’t get enough of Motors, especially when we combine them with paint!  We put our skills to the test to create Spin Art Boxes, creating a circuit that can be turned on and off, has multiple wires to connect, and not to mention all the cardboard and hot glue to make the box itself.

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Spin Art 2

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We had the misfortune of extreme heat and no AC in the Tech Center causing us to miss out on two days of camp, but we were lucky enough to still sneak in circuit boards using a Makey Makey.  We decided to create games based on the rule, “Don’t Complete the Circuit.”  Think of the game Operation, where you are trying to get the object out without causing the nose to light up.  Same concept with our games.  We had Mazes, we had throwing games, fishing games, quiz games, and more!

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The best part was being able to show off our Games the last day of camp with our Family and Friends!

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We had so much fun during our Circuit Circus Camp we can’t wait to see what else the MiniMakers will create in the months to come!

Meet Our Summer 2016 YouthWorks Employees

Each year DHF employs youth who are members in our space through Baltimore City’s YouthWorks program. This year we are excited to have the most YouthWorkers that we have ever hired and are thrilled about the projects that they’ve been working on.

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blog_YW_01Immanuel is a 15 year old who has been involved in DHF programs for 2 years now. He chose to work at DHF this summer because it is a familiar place and he knew that he would get the chance to learn new technology. His position this summer is a Maker Assistant and he is working on projects such as laser-cutting tiles and creating a hydroponic gardening system. Immanuel chose to work in this position because he felt like he fit best into this role and knew the most about it.
blog_YW_02Ben has been coming to DHF for 3 years and he is 15 years old. He applied to work here this summer because he loves working with technology and solving problems. His position this summer is a Web Specialist and he is working on the dashboard website. Ben chose to be a Web Specialist because it seemed like the hardest position and he wanted a challenge, plus he enjoys programming.

 

blog_YW_03Aidan is 15 years old and has been at DHF for 3 years. He chose to work here because he feels comfortable here and already knows his way around. Aidan is working alongside 3D Assistance as an Assistant and chose to work in this position because he completed the internship and previously learned everything about it.

 

blog_YW_04Claire has been with DHF since last fall and she is 16 years old. She wanted to work with us this summer because she wants to eventually work in a tech related field, and knows that this will help her work towards that goal. She is working as a Maker Assistant and Program Planner. While in these roles, Claire is assisting in laser-cutting projects and helping to plan projects for The Makerettes group.

 

blog_YW_05Ian is 16 years old and has been coming to DHF for a little over a year. He wanted to work here because he loves DHF and has the opportunity to work on many different things. Ian’s position this summer is a Product Tester which means that he is testing products in order to write reviews and how-to guides. He chose this position because he enjoys reviewing things and felt like it would be perfect for him.

 

blog_YW_06Larson has been a part of DHF programs for 3 years and is 15 years old. He wanted a job this summer that would give him a good opportunity, but would also be a familiar place, and he felt like DHF was perfect for that. He is working as a Program Assistant in the Nano Lab and is helping to teach the first two Maker Camps of the summer. Larson wanted to work in this role because he enjoys working with kids and knew that it would be fun.

 

blog_YW_07Amiri has been involved with DHF for 3 years and is 18 years old. He wanted to spend his summer working at DHF because it is a fun place to be and has a friendly environment. This summer he is working as an Assistant for 3D Assistance as well as working on a compost project. He chose these roles because he has experience working with 3DA and he wants to help to better the environment.

 

blog_YW_08Jalen is 16 years old and has been coming to DHF for a little over a year. He worked here last summer and had a great experience, so he chose to do it again this summer. Jalen is working as a Product Tester which has him testing gadgets to write a review and see if they would be useful to have in our tech center. He wanted to work in this role because it is something different that he doesn’t have experience with and it allows him to use new technology.

 

blog_YW_10Thomas has been coming to the tech center for 2 years and is 15 years old. He wanted to work here this summer because he is a member here and wanted something to do throughout the summer months. He is working with 3D Assistance and is helping to fix 3D printers and manage prints. Thomas chose to work in this area because he enjoyed his internship with 3DA this spring and wanted it to continue into the summer.

 

blog_YW_11Nick is 15 years old and has been involved in DHF programs for about 3 years. He chose to work here this summer because it is a community that he is comfortable with and it provides him with the opportunity to work in an area that he is interested in. Nick is working with 3D Assistance and is helping to perform maintenance and repair, as well as construction, on 3D printers for the tech center. He chose to work with 3DA because he had an internship with them this spring and was presented the opportunity to continue his work with them this summer.

Youth builds new DHF website

Digital Harbor Foundation is very excited to announce that we have launched a new website! On Friday, June 16th our newly designed website went live to the public. We are very happy with how it turned out and excited to share it with the world! This relaunch was taken on as a project by one of our own youth, 17-year-old Sierra Seabrease. Despite her struggles, Sierra can’t help but to be extremely proud of herself and the work that she’s done for us.

“I loved every second of this because it was all a learning experience. My favorite moment was when I looked back and saw the finished site. I was extremely proud when I realized that I had made that”, Sierra shared.

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The website highlights all of the programs that we offer for youth, as well as educators. It also showcases many of the projects we have at DHF, such as 3D Assistance, Pay What You Can, FabSLAM, Family Make Night, and our most recent endeavor, the Innovation Access Program. There are also links to our blog and our calendar of upcoming events so that you can keep up with all things new at DHF.

We feel as though this new website gives more insight into what life is like here at DHF and can help others in the community to get to know us better. We are extremely excited about this, and we hope that you are too! You can check it out for yourself here.

3D Printing for Solving Baltimore’s Problems

Each year, DHF hosts our FabSLAM Challenge, where we invite teams of youth to use 3D printing and digital fabrication to create solutions to problems issued during the challenge. This year we had a great showing at our FabSLAM Finale Showcase with teams putting their fabrication skills and imagination to the test to solve problems they found in their city.

Our challenge theme this year was Cities to focus on very local problems youth might experience or be aware of, and to celebrate the fact that this year FabSLAM expanded to two new regions – Idaho State and Pittsburgh. Participating teams in each of those regions also responded to the same challenge. We will share more about those competitions in the coming weeks.

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This year, we had 10 teams from Maryland and DC competing who were eager to share their work at the showcase and meet the judges to share the work they’ve done over the last six weeks. Each team was asked to present their project, which should have used 3D printing and other digital fabrication techniques, as well as a website documenting their project and progress.

The finale showcase is always inspiring, energetic, and filled with anticipation as teams come together to share their projects, talk about the work they’ve done over the last six weeks, and anxiously await the results to see if their hard work pays off by placing in the competition. We had 7 teams from around the state competing in this cycle, eager to meet our judges and share all their project and all their supporting documentation to compete for a top placement.

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Our First Place prize was awarded to Digital Oyster Foundation, a middle school team representing Digital Harbor Foundation. In response to the challenge, they worked to create a solution to the problem of a dwindling oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay. 3D Printed reef balls were the centerpiece of the oyster habitats they created, which also included an artificial wetland. They received kudos from the judges on the practical and possible nature of their design, recommending that they could get started right away with implementing this solution.

This is the very first time that any DHF team has placed in the competition and we were very proud of their effort.

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For the second year in a row, Second Place was awarded to Innovation Nation, a Bryn Mawr School team. Their project, Home Grown, used 3D printing to help imagine what could be done to solve the problem of vacant and abandoned buildings in Baltimore. This team of young ladies took on the challenge of “converting abandoned homes into places of growth” by turning vacant row houses into greenhouses where community gardens could thrive. Innovation Nation also won the Fan Favorite award!

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Third Place was awarded to another Bryn Mawr School team, Team Amasek, for their Storm Drain Filter. This project aimed to solve the problem of potentially toxic water runoff in Baltimore City storm drains thus contaminating the Chesapeake Bay. The product uses a simple design and a piece of charcoal for filtering the water as it enters the storm drain.

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For the very first time in 4 years, we had elementary school teams participate in FabSLAM! In fact, we had three elementary school teams participate and they did a great job for their first time! One of those teams, FHP Team from Federal Hill Prep Elementary, took home an Honorable Mention from the judges for their ‘R’ Treat Machine aimed at helping to reduce the amount of cigarette butts and gum found on the streets in their neighborhood.

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The remaining teams who participated had a great showing and we hope to have them all back in the future! You can check out their projects here:

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Team: Adventure Print        School / Organization: Bryn Mawr School        Project: Battery Box

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Team: Science Lions 3.0        School / Organization: Lakeland Elementary Middle School        Project: Rebuilding Abandoned Homes / Spikey Ice Crushers

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Team: TWLC        School / Organization: Tiger Woods Learning Center        Project: The New Utensil

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Team: Team Filter        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Water Bottle for Homeless

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Team: Neiva        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Trash Collecting Tree

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Team: Sleepless in Baltimore        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Sleeping Bag Cart for Homeless

 

In addition to all of our awesome youth teams and coaches, we would like to thank our incredible panel of judges for this 2016 cycle of FabSLAM! We couldn’t do this without your support and involvement and we are grateful for all the ways you make this program better!

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In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSLAM 2016 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to HatchboxPrintrbot, Proto-Pasta, Filabot, and Occipital for the generous donations of products and materials that were awarded to all our teams.

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Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSLAM 2016! We hope to have you participate again next year! If you would like to see all our photos from the event, you can check them out here: FabSLAM 2016 Flickr Album

Young Eyes on a Young Field

This post is written by Luke Fisher, one of DHF’s Program Specialists. This was originally intended as Luke’s presentation for the Progressive Ed Summit, which was, unfortunately snowed out and rescheduled for a time when Luke will be living in Japan. We thought everyone should hear his thoughts any way. Enjoy! 

 

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No one is going to be shocked when I say this next statement: students today are used to having an endless supply of information and entertainment via their cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc. But I am not here to complain, in fact, I think it’s a really wonderful thing and I am happy to be apart of this generation. What I am here to talk about is the disconnect that I see with students when they talk about school as they are walking into the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. Everyday I ask kids about their experiences at school and, as to be expected, the replies are generally a mix of “It was fine,” “Alright,” “Boring,” and the list of unenthused adjectives goes on and on, until I stop asking them questions and they can start telling me about the thing they are really excited about: whether it be, architecture, a new anime series they are watching, or their latest play through of Five Nights At Freddy’s. With an entire world of information out there that students are excited about, talking about studying the same 5 subjects for 12 years is the conversational equivalent of watching paint dry. I love learning and I plan on expanding my noggin’ until the day I die, but that kind of excitement is difficult to translate to youth. This is a sentiment that has to be learned on one’s own.

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STEM education is in a special place. It’s a field of eternal change and growth, therefore, making it a subject that requires constant tweaking and understanding. And much like the rest of education, it has no boundaries. You can apply STEM education to history, or english, or mathematics, etc.  but. . .  THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING TO KIDS.  Kids don’t care that you can make a program that helps them remember historical dates, or that they can create a game that is based off of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Why? Because every interaction that kids have with technology is in the realm of their interests, not what the government sanctioned necessary to become a functional adult in America. If you tie STEM education back to the subjects that they are already forced to know, educators all over are missing a powerful learning opportunity.

I’d say about 2 times a week I have a conversation that follows this similar pattern:

*Student Sitting Behind Computer Looking Discouraged/Frustrated/Tired etc*

Me: Hey, what’s up?

Student: I don’t know what to do.

Me: Well, what do you like? What are you interested in?

Student: (Insert Anime/Video Game/Fan Fiction Title Here/Subject/Culture)*

Me: Oh, well then just make something about that then.

It’s interesting to see how students react to this suggestion. Some are skeptical, some are hesitant, others are overjoyed. I think this suggestion takes so many off-guard because in the traditional education system, students are seldom taught that they can use what they care about to aid their education and not be something that’s distracting them from “an education”.

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We’re at a special time in education. While it’s not necessary to know historical dates or who is the Id, Ego, or Id in Lord of the Flies (although I think it will benefit you as a human) as time moves forward it’s becoming more and more clear that it is necessary to be technologically literate. We, as educators in the tech field, are wielding an incredible amount of power. Are we going to revert back to the tired ways of education’s stale formulaic past? Or are we going to take charge, push ourselves to learn as much as our students, and reshape how we teach in the classroom?

 

Mini Makers Learn to Make Toys

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This past winter, we ran a course for our Mini Maker program called Tinkering Toys, which aimed to teach our youngest makers a variety of manufacturing techniques for creating toys. Any chance the Mini Makers have to 3D print they take it, so when they found out that we would be creating toys by not only 3D printing, but by hand and using a laser cutter they were beyond excited!

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This course covered a variety of topics related to toy manufacturing, from coming up with the design to the different processes for fabrication.  For each project, we worked through the design process and then turned our designs into actual toys using a different technique each time.

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Each Mini Maker started out by designing their own Toy Company.  Here we practiced the process of Screen Printing.  Each Mini Maker created a logo image for their company and screen printed it using embroidery hoops and vinyl cutting.

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From there we moved on to Mold Making, another process that can be mass produced.  Each Mini Maker designed a mold using Tinkercad to be 3D printed and filled with, what we like to call, sticky toy solution. This solution works great for creating window clings and toys like those sticky hands found in quarter machines.

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As we created each toy, Mini Makers would go through the design process, come up with how their toy would look, prototype, rework the design, and produce their product. Some toys we produced directly focused on different steps of the design process, whether that was specifically designing their logo, prototyping with their 3D printed parachute toys, or fabrication through sewing or laser cutting, they still had to go through the whole process.

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Testing our 3D Printed Parachute Toys
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Painting our Laser Cut Memory Game tiles
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Spinning Tops

At the end of the cycle we had our very own Toy Fair where the Mini Makers pitched their company and ideas to the public. They showcased each of the products they made and talked about the processes used to create each one. It was so rewarding to see the Mini Makers really grasp the concepts they learned and be able to show off their work confidently.

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And the cherry on top of this sundae, is that one of our Mini Makers, Jacob, was invited to the White House Science Fair to share his line of toy products and talk about what he learned about manufacturing with President Obama! If you like, you can read more about that here: Jacob Goes to the White House

This was an enjoyable course for all our Mini Makers, educators, and staff and definitely something we would like to run again in the future.

2016 Spring Game Jam

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[Youth participants of the Spring 2016 Game Jam]

 

We hosted a Scratch Game Jam on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12. The weekend Game Jam turned out to be the most exciting and fruitful Game Jam we have ever hosted. With 19 youth in attendance it definitely seems like this event will keep on getting bigger and bigger every time we host it.

 

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[Sample Game Code from Game Jam]

 

For those of you who do not know what Scratch or Game Jam is here is some information on both. Scratch is a web based game development environment developed by the team at the MIT Media Lab. With Scratch you can drag and drop pieces of code in a simple to use interface which provides an easy way for our youth to learn simple and even complex programming principles in no time.

Game Jam is a hackathon style game development event hosted at the Digital Harbor Foundation. The event runs on a Friday evening and all day Saturday. Youth participants come together on Friday and form development teams to create a game together. As a guide for the youth, we provide a schedule sheet of the event along with information on how they can divide their team members and assign roles for everyone. Along with almost everything we do here at the Digital Harbor Foundation we try to keep an open format for the youth to either work on their own or on a team.  

 

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[Fan Favorites]

 

Team Panda were the Spring 2016 Game Jam Fan Favorites! They created a platform game called Panda Portal Jumpers that incorporates easy to use game mechanics in a fun, simple and yet hard to beat game.

 

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[We always need to take a crazy picture]

 

As we move to hosting more and more Game Jams as time passes I start to wonder what this event will look like in the future. With the increase in youth participation I can’t wait until we turn this event into a true game development hackathon! Here at the Digital Harbor Foundation we always strive to provide a safe, comfortable, and yet challenging, environment for our youth to create, explore, and fail. The Spring 2016 Game Jam is just one of the these environments. Here is the link to our 2016 Scratch Game Jam Studio if you’d like to see more of the games our youth created! We are already so excited for our next Game Jam, which will take place in October. 

 

Jacob Goes to the White House

 

Yesterday was a big, exciting day for all of us at DHF. One of our very own Mini Makers, Jacob Leggette, represented DHF at the 6th and final White House Science Fair of President Obama’s administration. This is the second year in a row that we have had one of our youth invited to participate in the WH Science Fair. Last year, you may recall that Sierra Seabrease presented her Digital Jukebox at the same event.
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We all gathered around the projectors at the Tech Center yesterday afternoon and anxiously watched the live-stream for some footage of our young maker at the White House. We were all surprised and ecstatic to finally catch a glimpse of him…blowing bubbles with the President himself!

Jacob eagerly shared his story about learning to 3D print in our summer Maker Camp last year, and how he enjoyed 3D printing so much he wrote to companies like Printrbot to ask for a 3D printer of his own in exchange for feedback about how kid-friendly their product was.

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His table was full of products he designed as part of his explorations of manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, laser cutting, sewing, and mold making. He even created specific products to share at this event like his 3D printed White House, as an example of additive manufacturing, and his Liberty Bell 3D printed mold.

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Before ending his conversation with President Obama, Jacob asked him if he has any “child science advisors”, to which the President responded that he did not. Jacob quickly recommended that “You should” and insisted this was a good idea!

We are all so very proud of Jacob and what a wonderful job he did representing himself, DHF and Baltimore at this year’s White House Science Fair.

See more coverage of Jacob’s presentation at yesterday’s event:

 

President Obama testing Jacob's custom 3D Printed bubble wands, via White House Instagram
President Obama testing Jacob’s custom 3D Printed bubble wands, via White House Instagram

 

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Photo via Telegraph World

 via White House Facebook (Jacob appears at 31:20)

“West Baltimore boy, 9, wows Obama at White House science fair” via Baltimore Sun

“This 9-year-old wants to be the first White House child science adviser” via Washington Post

“9 year old points out why he’s attracted the White House’s attention” via WBALTV

“Students show off inventions at White House Science Fair” via CBS News

“President Obama hosts final White House Science Fair” via ABC News

“Brainy, budding young scientists attend White House Science Fair” via NBC News

“Obama blows bubbles with Digital Harbor Foundation student” via Technically Baltimore

via USA Today