Celebrating International Day of the Girl Child at DHF

Women today are often faced with the challenge of being largely underrepresented in the tech world, but at DHF, in contrast, women represent around 40% of participants in programs semester to semester. In an effort to give girls a platform in STEM, the young women of DHF partnered with Wide Angle Youth Media at the end of August to create a short film for the United Nations’ International Day of the Girl Child initiative that showcases young women of different ages and demographics making in collaboration.

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On October 10th, the short film was released at the Digital Harbor Foundation in our first ever video premiere event. Members of the audience included families of the young women who starred in the film and community members such as Brooke Lierman, Maryland State Delegate representing District 46, who spoke on the importance of persistence, especially for young women. Said Lierman, “the next best thing to trying and winning is trying and failing.”

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The film screening, which also began DHF’s social media campaign for female youth’s representation in makerspaces and tech spaces, features DHF youth Miranda Hull, Jordyn Bocklage, Elizabeth Blake, Madison Bannerman, and Aeirss Prince, Anna Miller, Samantha Nistico, and Alexis Leggette. It shows the girls engaging in activities, such as problem solving, programming, laser cutting, and soldering, and features an encouraging message to girls – although only 24% of employees in math, science, technology, and engineering are women, young women can change this statistic by working together and rejecting the stereotypes that their minds aren’t wired for math and science.

Before and after the screening, two panels of DHF’s actresses answered questions posed to them about the process of creating the film and their experiences as young women in tech. When asked how to get more girls involved in tech, Aeirss, who narrates the short film, said “I would encourage girls to just go out and do it.” She also shared her story of being the only female participant in her school’s robotics club. Miranda had a similar experience of being one of the few females involved in her school’s Science Olympiad program.

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“The innovative and creative scene is male dominated,” Miranda said, “Women are underrepresented, but we will eventually dominate the scene.”

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Anna, age 10, closed out our panels with advice for getting more girls involved in STEM fields: “Tell girls when they’re doing a good job, listen to girls, and as girls help each other out, share ideas, and see what we can make.”

DHF Youth Organize A Youth Hackathon

We are excited to announce that this year our youth are bringing a hackathon like no other to Digital Harbor Foundation. This hackathon, officially titled Harbor Hacks, is a hackathon organized by youth for youth. For more information and to register visit: http://harborhacks.org

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Harbor Hacks, the Back Story

After participating in several local hackathons, one DHF youth, Bella, noticed that something was missing from these events. Where were all the young makers?

Bella thought that many youth may not be participating in community hackathons because they might not know what to expect at a hackathon. She remembered back to her first hackathon and how her Mom had to keep encouraging her to attend because she was so nervous, she even wanted to back out briefly during the walk to the space. Now, Bella participates in numerous hackathons (and has won a few!) all over Baltimore and came up with an idea to create a hackathon just for youth. This would give young people new to the idea or concept of a hackathon a safe place to experience a hackathon that was designed just for them.

In February, Bella presented her idea for a Youth Hackathon to the Youth Steering Committee at DHF. Our youth split into different committees for the event and went to work planning. Their hard work will be a reality next weekend August 11th – 13th at DHF when the inaugural Harbor Hacks Youth Hackathon takes place.

Register Now for Harbor Hacks 2017
 

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Who Can Participate?

Any youth between the ages of 12 – 18 who like to solve problems, create new inventions, or dream big! Hurry, registration ends August 7th.

We are also looking for a few adult tech coaches to help teams out throughout the weekend, so if you think you might be a good fit, get a coach ticket.

What does it cost?

Registration for students is Pay-What-You-Can and includes a weekend of fun, a t-shirt, meals and snacks all weekend, and some awesome giveaways!

Are there prizes?

Yes! Awesome tech prizes are waiting for the teams or individuals who impress the judges.

Register Now for Harbor Hacks 2017
 

We hope you will be able to join us for a fun weekend!

3D Mapping MD

Inspired by the We The Builders project, Casey Kirk from the Maryland State Department of Education reached out to us with a concept for a similar project.  She wanted to create a topographical map of Maryland with pieces contributed from students from each county.

How It Was Done

This project was split into two main parts: logistics and technical pieces.

Logistics

Casey launched into action by contacting schools and youth organizations in Maryland’s 24 counties (including Baltimore City) to find who had 3D printing capabilities. She then compiled a list of contacts and revealed to all the strategy to have each county printed by a different organization. More details developed over time, but the initial plan was relatively simple. Each county would be printed in a specific color and then mailed to DHF for an assembly by youth on Digital Learning Day.

Excitedly, the Governor’s office showed interest in the project. A plan was hatched to assemble the project at his office. Casey and Val from MSDE took on the task of handling all of the logistics so that DHF could focus on the technical aspects.

Technicals

Using Maryland’s Mapping and GIS Data Portal, I was able to get Digital Elevation Models (DEM) of each of the counties. DEMs are grayscaled images where the white sections represent higher areas of elevation, and the darker areas are lower elevations.

Once I had a DEM for all of the counties, I then went to work converting them to 3D. I created a spreadsheet to help determine what scale could be used for the map. Maryland has everything from beaches to mountains making it a dynamic range of topography. Making it all fit on a reasonably sized map was challenging. It’s not perfect, and I would have tried to use a more universal scale next time, but I ended up using a different proportion for the height than I did for the length/width.

After I had my scale, I started converting the files into 3D. This conversion was made easy by the tool Simplify3D. Simplify3D has an add-in specifically meant to convert elevation image maps to 3D. One just needs to load the PNG and set the dimensions of the 3D model.

 

 

That was a great start. Then I loaded each model into Meshmixer to clean up the edges.

After all the files were cleaned up and ready to go, Casey kicked back into action and started to share the data. Initially, we used Google Drive to share the files but then immediately found out a few school districts in Maryland don’t allow teachers to use Google Drive. As an alternative, we switched to using Dropbox to share the files. Everyone now had access to all the county files in case they wanted to print their own version of the map.

Reflection

The project was a lot of fun. Working with Casey and MSDE is something that I love to do. They are extraordinarily innovative and are immensely motivated to bring making to Maryland schools and youth. Being part of a team where we each person contributes a different skill set was great.

If I were to do this again, one difference I would make is to form the horizontal and vertical scales a little more similar. The difference between these axes was very noticeable and one of the first things people noticed.

The event at the Governor’s office was outstanding. Seeing all of the youth from across the state come together to build the map was inspirational.

Traditionally schools have been bounded by physical walls, and a group project meant working only with people in the same room. The Internet has changed this, making our project an exploration of a collaborative strategy that is not limited by physical location. This is also the way that companies in the tech industry act today through tools like Google Docs, GitHub, and Skype.

The industries of the future will demand that our students have the ability and agility to do this type of work on a consistent basis. At the Digital Harbor Foundation, we are an agile research and development organization focused on what the future of education will look like and solve tomorrow’s problems today.

DHF Presents: Admin Make Night

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We are excited to announce our (almost) Spring Admin Make Night. Created for principals, assistant principals, and district administrators, the DHF Admin Make Night is designed to allow administrators to have fun and create with the STEM & Maker tools that are being made available to their students. Try your hand at 3D printing, program a simple device, and build an interactive computer game from Scratch. Get to be a student for an evening, and get ready to MAKE this semester great!

Bring Your Admin – Stay to Make!

We’ve had a couple of teachers ask if they could attend this administrator focused event, so we’ve decided that if you can bring along your Principal, AP, or county level administrator, you’re welcome to join! Be sure to RSVP for yourself and your admin guest at the link below.

DHF Admin Make Night: Tuesday, February 21st 6:30-8:30 pm

Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center,
1045 Light Street, Baltimore, MD 21230
RSVP here: DHF Admin Make Night RSVP

If you have any questions, please email josh@digitalharbor.org

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Digital Harbor Foundation is dedicated to fostering learning, creativity, productivity, and community through education. In 2013 we transformed a closed-down rec center in Baltimore City into a vibrant Tech Center for youth. In 2014 we launched the Center of Excellence to train others how to incorporate making into their own learning environments. Check out DHF educator workshops and to stay up to date on DHF happenings, sign up for the monthly Maker Educator Newsletter at dhf.io/nws

Baltimore’s First Abilities Hackathon

 

At times, I have found myself taking for granted the simple things in life: being able to walk side by side amongst others, the ability to hold and feel objects, the ability to communicate through speech; not everyone has been granted these abilities, and for some, these abilities have been taken away.

“A child is only as disabled as their environment and the beliefs of the people around them.” – Bala Pillai DPT, PCS

The Abilities Hackathon presented itself as an amazing opportunity for the Baltimore community to closely reflect on the things we take for granted on a daily basis. The event helped unite the community towards helping those with impacted abilities all across Maryland. Teams could participate in any one of the following four tracks:

  • Transportation/Mobility
  • Open Software/Hardware
  • Entertainment/Leisure
  • Wearables

On April 22nd, the Abilities Hackathon brought together over fifty Developers, Makers, and Designers in the quest to find solutions to common problems that those with disabilities face in every day life.

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Over 15 mentors were available on site throughout the weekend in the form of Tech Mentors, as well as Physical and Occupation Therapists to help guide participants in their valiant quest to help their community over the three day event.

At the end of the event, four teams were rewarded greatly for their efforts; thanks to the Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, we were able to present to teams over $9,000 worth of prizes during the weekend.

Here is a recap of what winners in each of the categories designed over the weekend.

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Open Software/Hardware: Tuber
Jake Tunney, Luke Samuels, and Michael Petr found that older adults and people without wifi have limited access to social and health resources. Transportation is also a major factor with accessing these resources. Tuber is an app that allows users to make a phone call to request the highly reliable Uber service for quick, affordable rides.

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What’s next for Tuber?: The creators of Tuber plan on enhancing the quality of voice transcription, and adding confirmation calls to assure users that an Uber is on the way.

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Wearables: eySonos
Max Corbin’s original inspiration for his project came from his aunt with degrading vision. This problem led to a simple question: if we can have cars auto-navigate, why can’t we perform a similar function to help the blind navigate? If we can, is it possible to do it cheaply?

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By combining 3D modeling, circuit building, programming, and getting something working in the short time required, Max Corbin was able to come up with eySonos. eySonos features a scanning array of ultrasound sensors to provide acoustic feedback from what is seen in the environment.

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What’s next for eySonos: 1) Continue to explore options for providing queues to a user. 2) Collect data and see if detection, tracking, and machine learning can be used to classify targets in the environment.

 

Transportation/Mobility: Backpack Access
People in wheelchairs carry lots of gadgets for their everyday needs. They often carry a backpack on the handles of their chair, but struggle to access it. Backpack Access highlights a simple track system with pulleys that allow the user to slide the bag from the back of their chair to the side without needing to reach around. Personal preferences for wheelchair products are highly varied based on ability.

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What’s next for Backpack Access:Developing the extruded rail system with improved pulleys. The creators then plan on making a panier style bag made to work most seamlessly with our system based on the needs of our users in wheelchairs.

 

Leisure/Entertainment: Disaster 512Z
Disaster 512Z (pronounced five twelve z) is a game aimed towards the blind/visually impaired community. With a pair of earbuds and phone in hand, you play as a space officer who has crash landed in the pressure chamber of an abandoned space facility. There is no power, so everything is dark. In fact, you don’t even look at your phone screen throughout the entire game, because there is nothing to see. You hold your phone in your hand and it acts as a device to control the space suit your character is wearing. Instead of walking, the character boosts along (with corresponding sound effects!) when you tilt your phone.

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What’s next for Disaster 512Z: Adding a menu system, most sound effects, more story, and more levels.

 

Overall, the event was a great success. Understandably, it’s quite difficult to brainstorm a project idea that will have lasting effects on an individual’s life, let alone make a fully functioning life-changing prototype in two and a half-days. This is why all eleven teams from the Abilities Hackathon have been invited to continue working on their projects and compete for $6,000 in prizes at the May 25th Showcase. Teams will have had a full month to refine and iterate upon projects presented during the event.

For more information about the Abilities Hackathon Showcase and to get your tickets, visit the Eventbrite page.

Thank you to all that were able to attend the Hackathon on April 22nd; hackers and mentors alike. The event was a great success and we are super excited about the Showcase on May 25th as it begins to come to fruition.

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Also, a big thanks to all of our sponsors who helped support us in our mission to make the world more accessible. You all rock.

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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

DHF Springing Up Around Town

 

March has passed, which means we welcome a new month and new adventures for the DHF team.

Digital Harbor Foundation will be busy either hosting, running, coordinating, making, or participating in multiple events throughout the Baltimore area. These are places we will have a presence out and about around town in the coming weeks! We hope to see you out there!

*Please keep in mind not all events are free or open to the public.

newheader_sciencefair_2015 White House Science Fair

We are honored and excited to have one of our elementary makers representing DHF at this year’s White House Science Fair, the 6th and final of President Obama’s administration! You can watch a live-stream of the event on April 13th and we will be sharing highlights throughout the day on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You may also want to read-up on last year’s DHF youth who participated in White House Science Fair, Sierra Seabrease.

 

2016 Summer Resource Fair Summer Resource Fair

Looking for Summer Camps but not sure where to start?! Join us on April 14th at 10am for the Summer Resource Fair (sponsored by Family League and B’More, Read More). Melissa will be hosting a table to share information about our upcoming Maker Camps. This will be a great opportunity to connect with summer providers throughout Baltimore City.  Location: Maryland Book Bank ( 501 N. Calvert Street )

 

USA Science & Engineering Festival

USA Science & Engineering Festival

We are thrilled to have Adam, our Senior Tech Specialist, represent DHF at this year’s USA Science & Engineering Festival. If you have the opportunity to attend this special event make sure to stop by the Raspberry Pi booth to visit Adam.  More Information: http://www.usasciencefestival.org/

 

Windsor Mill STEM Night

Melissa and Jonathan will be traveling to Windsor Mill Middle School to host a fun STEM project to students and parents. This event is only for the Windsor Mill Middle School community but if any schools want DHF to host a STEM project email us.

 

 Abilities HackathonAbilities Hackathon

Mark your calendars! On April 22-24 the first Baltimore Abilities Hackathon will be hosted at the Tech Center. This is a collaborative effort to engage the tech community in human-centered design practices for individuals with needs related to their impacted abilities. We are looking for talented developers, makers, programmers, and designers to join us. Tickets are $20 which includes T-Shirt and Food for the whole weekend. More Information: http://abilitieshackathon.com/

 

11228129_923332231036917_659631216502168028_oCommon Ground 2016

DHF will be hitting the road to head to Ocean City for the 4th Annual Common Ground Conference, “Maryland’s top professional development of the year”. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear thought-provoking speakers, experience hundreds of inspiring sessions, and there will be demonstrations of the latest products. If you are attending make sure to say “Hi” to Melissa and Josh in the Exhibitor’s Hall. More Information:  http://www.commongroundmd.org/

 

mainhomelogoxcf_0RobotFest

On April 30th both DHF Youth and Staff members will have the opportunity to host a booth at this year’s RobotFest. “This event will welcome all roboticists, hackers, artists, hobbyists and makers of any age who have the unquenchable urge to develop and create new, previously unseen forms from lifeless electronics, fabrics, and mechanical parts. Join the fun and excitement with hands-on exhibits, and workshops!”  More Information: http://www.robotfest.com/

 

 

Join us for FabSLAM 2016

Today is the day! We are excited to announce our 5th cycle of FabSLAM! We are kicking off FabSLAM 2016 today with the announcement of our challenge theme and open registration for youth teams.

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To celebrate our regional expansion of FabSLAM, we wanted a challenge theme that would highlight this new aspect of FabSLAM…

This cycle’s challenge theme is CITIES!

For this challenge theme, teams should identify a problem in your city that could be addressed using 3D printing and digital fabrication.

More information:

  • Use digital fabrication methods (e.g. 3D printing) to create a solution to the problem you have identified
  • Identify a space in your city that could be reimagined / improved and design and fabricate a model of the new space  OR
  • Design a product that would solve a need of an identified space: e.g. rain gutter guard, a more accessible door handle,etc.

 

We welcome teams of youth (with an adult coach) to register and join us to compete in this 3D printing competition. It doesn’t matter where you are geographically located in Maryland, as long as you can attend the FabSLAM Showcase at the end of the program.

What is FabSLAM?

FabSLAM is a multi-week, team-based, digital fabrication competition where youth learn and practice design, iteration, and rapid prototyping skills primarily focused on 3D Design and 3D Printing. A challenge theme is presented and each team works to develop a product that fits the theme and meets any accompanying requirements. Each team works with a Coach to help guide the team through the challenge and aid in documentation.

FabSLAM culminates in a FabSLAM Showcase where teams will present their products to a panel of judges and a public audience for review and feedback.

To learn more,

Check Us Out at NAA Convention

Our Directors, Shawn + Steph Grimes are excited to be attending and presenting at the National Afterschool Association Convention in Orlando, FL next week!

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We will be presenting two talks on Tuesday March 22nd during the convention. If you’re attending the conference, come join us for our sessions!

 

Bringing the Maker Movement to Your Program

The Maker Movement is gaining STEAM and it is empowering youth to be productive without sacrificing creativity. Learn more about what a Maker is and how the Maker Movement can be easily integrated in nearly any program.

  • Tuesday, March 22nd
  • 1:45 – 3:00pm
  • Room: Naples 3

 

3D Printing: What You Need to Know

There is a lot of excitement around 3D printers and what they can do. This session will go beyond the marketing hype and share real experiences (good and bad) from two people who have been using 3D printers in a learning environment for a number of years. Come learn what they can actually do for your program, and what they can’t!

  • Tuesday, March 22nd
  • 3:15 – 4:30pm
  • Room: Sarasota 1

 

We hope to see you at the convention!

Spreading Making on Digital Learning Day 2016

 

Last week, during Digital Learning Day 2016 we worked with the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) to present an online maker session to classrooms across the state. It was an awesome event and we all hope we can collaborate in this way again! There were 9 total sites, including DHF, who participated in this online session and engaged their students in making Art Bots right alongside us. MSDE coordinated the event through their online WebX portal so all sites were able to login and watch the live session we were hosting in person at the Tech Center.

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One of our youth Members, Claire Smith, led the activity on-site here with Ms. Lannigan’s 5th grade class from Federal Hill Prep Elementary School. They were all enthusiastic and attentive participants and made some of the most creative and unique Art Bots we have ever seen! Claire not only led the youth who were present here through the activity, but she also provided all of the instruction and guidance for the sites who were participating online.

We began by issuing the students a challenge to build a robot that draws using an electric toothbrush as the motor. Students then took a few minutes to sketch their ideas and think about a prototype of their design.

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The online format allowed for youth from each site to share what they made with the whole group and show their process via video and audio to help other youth who were participating. So after some sketching and ideating, a few youth from various sites volunteered to share their designs and talk about their ideas via the webcam to everyone else before we started building.

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The best part of this activity is the actual building part where you get to experiment with movement techniques and placement of your markers or drawing tools as you build and test your robot. We discussed ways that our designs might need to change, based on our testing, and how that is part of the iterative process (and what the iterative process is!). Then, everyone had a great time adding personality and character to their Art Bots using wiggly eyes, pipe cleaners, and other craft materials.

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Finally, (and this is our favorite part) we invited everyone at our site to bring all of their Art Bots to the “Art Bot Rally”! This is just a large piece of paper spread out on the floor where we can put all of the Art Bots together and see how they interact and what type of art they create as a whole group. Of course, we encouraged each participating site to do this step as well because it is the most fun!

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Before wrapping up, Claire led all of the sites in a discussion about the process,how our constructions were different from our designs, what we would do differently next time, and what we all learned. The DHF team really enjoyed being a part of Digital Learning Day this year, especially in this way! It was a really innovative format of a workshop for us to be a part of and we thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Thank you to everyone at MSDE who made this possible, the sites who participated across MD, and a special thanks to Federal Hill Prep and Ms. Lannigan’s class for being eager and willing participants in our live session!

For more information and highlights from this event, you can check out our Flickr page with more photos: Digital Learning Day 2016 Flickr or these hashtags and posts on Twitter: #DLDay2016, #mdDLDay, @md_digilearning.