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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

Come Celebrate our Anniversary


Join Us for our 3rd Anniversary Showcase

As the holiday season is in full-swing, we are looking just a bit ahead to our 3rd Anniversary Celebration! January 2016 will mark the 3rd anniversary of the Tech Center Grand Opening, a milestone that is hard to believe is upon us!

To celebrate the occasion we will be hosting our 3rd Anniversary Showcase on Thursday January 14th, 2016. During the event our youth will be sharing their new learning, demonstrating new skills, and showcasing projects from our fall programs including 3D printing, Minecraft, design thinking, prototyping, electronics, and more! This showcase is a great way to meet our youth and see their work in action.

We will also be announcing some new initiatives we have planned for the coming year and highlighting our work over this last year for both the Tech Center and our Center of Excellence. This is a perfect opportunity to check in on us to see what we have been doing and hear, first-hand, what we have up our sleeves!

We invite all of you to join us for this evening of innovation and celebration! Please RSVP here: RSVP for 3rd Anniversary Showcase

Sierra Inspires Girl Scouts

A few weeks ago, one of our youth ambassadors, Sierra Seabrease, was invited to be the keynote speaker at the Dream, Design, Do! Women in STEAM Festival hosted by Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. The event took place during the MD STEM Festival, a statewide, week-long festival which organized and supported a high number of events focused on promoting STEM to youth and families.


Sierra was asked to share her experiences with technology and the work she has done as part of our programs. Sierra delivered a short, but inspiring talk to a room full of young ladies as a kick off to the entire day of activities and workshops. She shared about her focal projects, including the Digital Jukebox Piano, which was included as part of the 2015 White House Science Fair, and gave advice to the girls to about pursuing their interests in STEM and made recommendations on how to do so.

We are so proud of all that Sierra has accomplished and are grateful that other organizations are interested in her work and perspective!

You can read more about the event in these places:



Jonathan Presents at Ignite Education 2015


I recently had the privilege to speak at the third annual City Neighbors Foundation Ignite Education event and I’m excited to share my experience!

Ignite Talks are a public speaking format developed by Brady Forrest and Bre Pettis in 2006. Each talk is exactly five minutes long and 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds. The slides advance whether or not the speaker is ready for them to advance; there is no ability to pause the slides once the presentation starts. The goal is for the talk to be rapid pace and to keep the topic moving forward. The tagline for the official Ignite Talks is “Enlighten us, but make it quick” and this is a great summary of the spirit of the event.


Ignite Education Baltimore is a local, education based spin-off from this larger series and it is hosted by City Neighbors Foundation each year. The overarching topic for this year’s Ignite Education event was “education and social justice in Baltimore,” and all the proposed talks had to relate to this issue in one way or another. The City Neighbors Foundation stated that one of the main goals was to get the audience talking and inspired about this larger topic, and that each talk should ideally be conversational and spark ideas and foster dialogue both during and after the event.


I submitted my proposal as soon as I found out about the event because I was interested in the challenging Ignite format and I considered it a great way to share my thoughts and experiences with the education community in Baltimore.  I thought that my talk would fit well with the topic and knew this event would be valuable public speaking practice and allow me to further refine my ability to think quickly. The driving factor for my submission was that I wanted to meet other educators and invite a discussion for my theme and highlight my passion for youth empowerment.


My talk explored how the integration of making and the Hacker Mindset in education in recent years has resulted in increased opportunity and a progression away from a consumer culture in education toward a producer culture where youth have a hand in their education and knowledge development. As these changes have gained momentum there have been big shifts on a large scale, but I wanted to dive in and dissect how this integration plays out on an individual level between teacher and student.

This was the overall goal of my talk and I integrated in two core concepts from Bruce Lee’s martial art philosophy Jeet Kune Do: the idea of being like water, embracing fluidity to change forms, and the importance of being willing to absorb that which is useful, regardless of the source. This was the driving force for my personal movement away from an ego-driven mindset in my youth education background to a more empowerment-driven mindset where I was willing to learn from youth and elevate them as experts. I related my personal experiences and how these guiding philosophical points that I borrowed from Bruce Lee have helped me change my approach to education and learning, and I relayed how working at Digital Harbor Foundation has shaped my growth as an educator. Here is a video of my talk that Jen took:

I greatly enjoyed the feeling of being able to deliver my talk in a clear and concise way while meeting the requirements of the Ignite format, but what I enjoyed most about the event was hearing the other Ignite talks. I came away with lots of insight and heard some amazing anecdotes. It was also great to recognize that there are many other educators with similar goals and approaches regarding youth empowerment and reimagining education. I’m very glad to have had the opportunity to speak at this event and am thankful to the City Neighbors Foundation for giving me the chance to share my experiences!

TinkerTour in Baltimore



We were honored and excited to be chosen as one of the stops along Tinkercad‘s TinkerTour in September! A few months back, we came across a tweet from Tinkercad stating that they were looking for places between DC and New York to visit as part of their East Coast tour leading up to Maker Faire. We rallied an impromptu, late-night Twitter campaign to Tinkercad so they might consider making Baltimore one of their stops along the tour (if you helped us, thank you!) and it worked!


We are avid users of Tinkercad in our after school programs, Maker Camp, and educator workshops so we were thrilled that they selected us and we were getting the chance to host them at DHF for an Advanced Tinkercad Workshop. On September 22nd Andy Taylor, Community Manager for Tinkercad, joined 32 youth, educators, and DHF staff at the Tech Center to teach us how to design a flashlight using some advanced features in Tinkercad. Andy shared some of the iterations of his flashlight design and then guided us through creating our own flashlights. We used calipers to measure the LEDs we were using to get precise measurements for our casing, learned about boolean operations to combine shapes to build our structures, and used multiple workplanes in Tinkercad to aid in correct placement and precision design. I think the tip we were most excited about was the keyboard shortcuts Andy shared with us to make our work in Tinkercad more effective and seamless.


It was an awesome evening and we are grateful to have been included in the TinkerTour! Thank you to Tinkercad, Andy, workshop participants, and everyone who sent a tweet to get their attention!

Read More about the TinkerTour:

FabSlam 2015 Recap



On April 22, 2015 we hosted our FabSlam Showcase and celebrated 6 weeks of 3D printing and digital fabrication with teams from around the state. 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. This cycle’s challenge was to design and create a product that solves a problem someone could encounter in the kitchen.

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.

We were grateful and excited to recruit a talented cast of judges this cycle including:

  • Heather Bradbury – Director of MPS Programs at Maryland Institute College of Art,
  • Clyde Boyer – Co-Founder and CTO of Trinity Education Group,
  • Matthew Griffin – former community manager at Makerbot Industries and director of community & support at Adafruit Industries who is currently finishing a book for on design for 3D printing,
  • Amy Hurst – accessibility researcher and an assistant professor in the Information Systems department at the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) where she runs the prototyping and design lab (the pad),
  • Laura McClure – Editor of TED’s education initiative — TED-Ed ( — and writer of the forthcoming YOLO Guide to Modding the World,
  • Marty McGuire – freelance web developer and a current Maker-in-Residence at the DHF Tech Center.


First place in this year’s FabSlam was awarded to Nerdy Bacon, a middle school team representing Perryville Middle School in Cecil County. In response to the challenge, they attempted to create a solution to the problem of a sticky syrup bottle and designed the Pour & Store Syrup Cap. They received kudos from the judges on their iterative design, working well as a team, and valuing individual contribution and team adoption in their design process.

Nerdy Bacon also won the Fan Favorite Award, which was a new prize this year. Showcase attendees were given two tickets to cast a vote for their favorite projects. This was a hit and something we will definitely be continuing in future cycles of FabSlam!


Second Place was awarded to Innovation Nation, one of the three teams in the competition representing Bryn Mawr School. Combining their experience as a robotics team with their new 3D Printing skills, this team created the Kitchen Copter, a 3D printed quadcopter with utensil attachments. Innovation Nation won the judges over with their “fantastic documentation.”


Third Place was awarded to Team Sophomore, also from Bryn Mawr School for their Pass the Salt product, a custom designed wagon that attaches to a Sphero ball (controlled remotely by an iPhone) for passing items around the dinner table. They were commended by the judges on their strong teamwork and solving a relatable problem.


There were two teams from DHF who participated this year. One of these teams was 3D Ninjas and their project was the Carrot Dispenser, which was inspired by PEZ dispensers with a goal to make carrots cool!


The other team representing DHF was Team Sushi who tackled the problem of printing water-tight objects with their 3D Printed Sink. Team Sushi impressed the judges with the potential impact of their project such as installations in public places for homeless.


Another new team to participate this year were the Grizzlies from Garrison Forest School who entered with their Potcentric 3000, an automated stovetop helper designed to free the chef’s hands by stirring automatically. The judges thought that it was about time for someone to “get a robot on that!


The third team to participate from Bryn Mawr was Wo(man) Made and their brilliantly named Miss Army Knife, a multi-tool device with cooking specific utensils with a goal to free people from the kitchen!


In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSlam 2015 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to Afinia 3DMatter HackersPrintrbot, UltiMachine, and FilaStruder for the generous donations of products and materials that were awarded to our placing teams.

Afinia Logo 11-2014-1619





Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSlam 2015! 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 2015 Flickr Album

SxSWedu Tech Summit: Perryville Middle Schools’ 3D Printing Micro-Shop

On March 11, Digital Harbor Foundation in Baltimore was the lead organizer of the Tech Education Summit at SxSWedu in Austin, TX. We designed the event to bring together organizations doing exemplary work across the country to support innovative technology and maker education for youth. Each organization led a short “micro-workshop” featuring hands-on learning activities.


One organization that was invited to attend was a favorite of the Keynote speakers Lynda Weinman (founder and CEO of and Stephanie Santoso (Senior Advisor for Making – White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) was the Perryville Middle School Destination Imagination Team, who showcased their work in 3D printing. Here is what the youth had to share about their participation in the event, and how it sparked new questions about transforming education in the United States:


Cooper Wilcox, 8th grader: We were there to inform and teach people about 3D scanning. This is pretty much exactly what is sounds like. We can take a XBox Kinect camera and scan your body. Then we can process that video in an application to be able to create a 3D model of you and what you would look like in a video game. After that, we can export your file into another application and 3D print YOU! It was really great to show people what we have learned!

Alexandrea Koons, 8th grader: At the summit, we met Lynda Weinman, the founder of She was so insightful about ways to improve the common school curriculum. Something that peaked my interest was when she talked about today’s girl youth population and how they don’t find school as fun as boys do. I find it very true and it really made me think of ways I can increase the love of school for girls in my school. Another person I met was Stephanie Santoso, the Senior Advisor on Making for the White House who gave the second keynote! She talked about entrepreneurship and really opened my eyes to new ways I can use imagination and creativity to develop ideas to help my community.

Vincent Gugliotta, 8th grader: SxSWedu Tech Summit made us think about ways that we could change our education system. I had personally thought that the best way to change the education system was to put up less emphasis on letter grades and more on smaller goals that children will want to strive to. This event had made us realize just how much it would benefit us all to have these ideas put into play, and how important it is that we have all these people willing to come out and explain ways to try and help learning become something fun and challenging.


In addition to participating in SxSWedu Tech Summit, the White House announced last week that the Perryville Middle School Destination Imagination Team received honorable mention in the White House Student Film Festival for their film “Pay It Forward” highlighting their 3D printing work.