DHF Presents: Admin Make Night


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


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

Family Make Night: Magnetic Mazes

Join us on August 16th to explore and create Mazes, using different mediums and means of prototyping. This is a great project for family members of all ages!

RSVP here

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Each family will get to make their own Maze using various materials including a magnet!  At the end of the night you will have a polished Maze to take home and continue to test and play.

Doors Open: 6:30pm; Arrive by 7:30pm to complete the activity.

PLEASE NOTE: We request that you do not plan to arrive before 6:30pm at the earliest as our afterschool programs do not wrap up until then. Thank you!

For more details and to RSVP, check out our Meetup page – Family Make Night: Magnetic Mazes

Family Make Night: Screenprinting


For July’s Family Make Night, families had the opportunity to decorate their own t-shirts by learning how to screenprint! This is the first time we’ve done this for a Family Make Night, and the first time that I have led a Family Make Night event.

Each family was able to design their own t-shirt with pre-cut vinyl stencils that we had prepared ahead of time. They applied the stencils onto screenprinting frames and then squeegeed ink which transferred their design onto the shirt.  


In preparation, we cut over 250 vinyl stickers and made 10 frames which took weeks of work, but it all paid off in the end when we were able to see the excitement of the families while they were making!


If you missed out on this Family Make Night, instructions and a tutorial that you can follow along to can be found hereYou can also see more photos from the event by visiting our Flickr page.

About Family Make Night:

Family Make Night is our monthly family-focused workshop. These workshops are designed for families up to 6 people (including at least one adult) to work together on a project. There are sample projects to work from and all materials needed to complete the project are provided. Each month is a different theme and project. Learn More about Family Make Night

How To PokeTour

For about a two weeks, Pokémon GO has been dominating the app store, the news cycle, and mobile devices of kids and adults alike. (In case you don’t know what Pokémon GO is, check out this quick summary.) The Augmented Reality (AR) scavenger hunt incorporates real-world elements like monuments, landmarks, and community centers, and encourages players to explore their surroundings while finding and collecting Pokémon. Since its release, we’ve seen the game bring people together, and bring people outside – key components of a successful summer program.

So how can you use Pokémon GO with your programs this summer?  Since the game requires walking and interacting with your environment, we feel it is a perfect vehicle to combine with educational walking tours. Parks and nature centers can discuss habitats and wildlife, museums and libraries can teach local history, and community groups can bring attention to hidden landmarks and features in their neighborhood all while incorporating Pokémon GO. In order to help you take advantage of this opportunity, we tasked our resident Pokémon Master, Michael Mosin, to design an educational Pokémon GO walking tour of our own Federal Hill neighborhood. His “lessons learned” on how to build a Pokémon GO tour for your community are listed below.

Photo by Michael Mosin

Building the Tour

  • GO and Play: Download Pokémon GO, and get to know the game. To understand most of the basics, you’ll only need to play for about 15-30 minutes. Be sure you’re walking around – the game is really boring unless you’re exploring!
  • Take up Cartography: Grab a physical map and mark down Pokéstops (little blue pins where players can collect items) and other points of interest in order to create a local layout for your research and route-making.
  • Venture Out, Take Notes: Take notes on which Pokéstops are landmarks and monuments that could be potential talking stops on your tour, and which Pokéstops are thematically irrelevant (ie: a street corner or restaurant.) If there is a landmark or feature that you want to highlight that’s not a Pokéstop, go right ahead! You’re making the tour – the Pokémon aspect just adds a little fun!
  • Read Up: Some Pokéstops may be local artifacts that haven’t been used before as part of tours, so you may need to do a little digging to find out why they are there. For more well documented points, figure out the interesting facts that aren’t necessarily on the plaque that you’ll be able to share with your tour group. Talk to local historical societies, or community groups, or residents.
  • Maximize Discovery: Once you’ve mapped out potential points of interest, design a route to hit as many different Pokéstops and educational points before returning to the starting point or ending the trip.
  • Be Pragmatic: Some streets may have a bunch of stops in a row, and players would want to stop or pass through them. This may distract from the tour, especially if each stop is at an insignificant corner. You can design your route to avoid these stops.
  • Walk and Hatch: The game has a component called “Eggs” which hatch Pokémon once the player has “incubated” them by walking a particular distance. To guarantee players at least one newly caught Pokémon by the end of the trip, design a trip that is at least a little over 2 km (1.25 miles) long, since that is the shortest distance needed for some Eggs to hatch.
  • Pokémon Gyms: These are part of the competitive element of the game and are probably the least educational. Try and avoid them (or at least don’t stop at them) to maintain the continuity of the tour. Whereas catching Pokémon and collecting items from a Pokéstop will only take a few seconds, fighting at a gym can take up to a couple of minutes.

Prior to the Tour

  • Getting Started: You may want to encourage participants to download the game beforehand, or show up 15 min early to get started. They will need to either create a Pokemon account, or sign in with their Google account.
  • Become the Beacon: If you are starting the tour at a Pokéstop, you can activate a “Lure Module.” They are active for 30 minutes and lure Pokémon, and thus players, to a particular Pokéstop. You might be able to pick up a couple people who didn’t know that you were giving a tour and were just walking around playing the game. “Lure Modules” can be acquired through an in-app purchase.
  • Charge Up!: In all your marketing, encourage people to come with a full battery. Although you’ll make efforts to conserve energy, the game has to be constantly running in order to work, and it sucks up juice. You may want to bring an external battery pack or two in case you or someone runs out of power.

At the beginning of the tour, ask players to

  • Conserve Energy: Turn on the in-game Battery Saver Mode by tapping the red & white Pokéball at the bottom of the screen and then going to “Settings.” In Settings, also set the phone on “Vibration,” so that whenever there is a Pokémon nearby, the phone will vibrate. This way, participants don’t need to be constantly looking at their phones and instead can watch and listen to you. It will also turn off the screen when the phone is upside down so as not to waste battery while the game continues to run in the background.
  • Outline Expectations: Promise that you will let them know when you are passing a Pokéstop so they can grab some items, and that the phone will vibrate when they pass a Pokémon so they can catch it. Explain that they should be grabbing items and catching Pokémon, but when they are not, they can leave their phones in their pockets and enjoy the tour. If they do need to stop to catch a Pokémon, encourage them to step to the side so others can pass them.
  • Incubate: Begin incubating an egg before the tour leaves from the starting point.  Tap the Pokéball, swipe left, select and egg and incubate. (They will need to have collected at least one egg from a Pokéstop.)
  • Look and Listen: After giving some time for everyone to get ready, have everyone put their phones away and start the tour!

During the tour

  • Stay On and In Sync: The app has to be open to work, so make sure they don’t turn off their screen or lock the phone. Since they are using the Battery Saver Mode, they should be able to place the phone upside down in their pocket to save energy without locking the phone.
  • Incorporate the Monsters: Even though this is an education opportunity – you’re still catching  Pokémon! If you’re discussing the natural habitat and the species that live there, ask kids what type of Pokémon they might find in that habitat. If you’re walking around a neighborhood, see who can get the coolest picture of a Pokémon with a building or landmark.
  • Be Flexible: Notice and work with changes along your route, both in-game (active Lures, nearby rare Pokémon) and the real world (construction detours, traffic, building shadows if it’s hot out).
  • Roll with the Punches: The game is incredibly popular and still a little glitchy. If it freezes, or has any issues, encourage players to quit the app and then reopen. This fixes most problems, but on occasion, people will be locked out of the game. Encourage them to continue to quit and reopen; persistence usually pays off.
Photo by Michael Mosin

After the tour

  • Catch ‘em all: Ask people what type of Pokémon they caught. You can keep a list and use this info for future tours and to discuss what is commonly found on the route.
  • Share it out: Have people share their pictures on social media and mention your organization. If they can get some Pokémon pictures – even better.
  • Point out a Gym: Now that you don’t have to keep people moving – you may want to point out a couple gyms within walking distance where they can test their Pokémon mettle on their own time.
  • Learn More: Have suggested reading materials where they can learn more about what you discussed on the tour. Recommended the books, websites, and museums you used to create the tour.
  • Gift Bag: If you want to send everyone home with something as a souvenir, Pokémon cards can be found online at fairly reasonable prices.

The 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.

Michael Mosin is Baltimore native studying Sociology and Economics in Washington State. He likes to dance and juggle (not at the same time necessarily) and is a child of the Pokémon generation. If you’re interested in attending Michael’s Pokémon Tour in Federal Hill, email michael@digitalharbor.org

If you want more information on how to combine technology and community, email josh@digitalharbor.org or sign up for our newsletter at dhf.io/poke

Flashback to Week of Making

While celebrating the National Week of Making, Digital Harbor Foundation was able to participate in both National Maker Faire, for which we were honored to be listed as a Highlighted Maker, and Capitol Hill Maker Faire in Washington, DC. We are very excited to have been a part of both of these events and had a great time while participating.

On June 18th and 19th, we packed up our projects and headed to DC for National Maker Faire. During this event, DHF helped nearly 650 attendees to create their own paper flashlight out of a card stock template, an LED, and a coin cell battery. This project took each participant about 5-10 minutes to complete and they were able to take the finished product home with them. This project was definitely a hit! There was a constant moving line of attendees waiting to make their own flashlight.


Our exhibit also showcased each of the first place FabSLAM teams from the Baltimore and Idaho competitions who were able to share their winning projects. Idaho’s first place team, the G T.E.A.M. from Lone Star Middle School, presented their Homeless Emergency Life Pack, or HELP, which is a wheeled suitcase that can be turned into a one-person shelter. While the Digital Oyster Foundation, a middle school team and Baltimore’s first place winner, presented their 3D printed reef balls to create a solution to a dwindling oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay. This project even received an Editor’s Choice Award at the faire!


On Tuesday, June 21st, we were on our way to Capitol Hill Maker Faire, but this time with our Mini Makers. Two of our Mini Makers were able to present the projects that they worked on while learning about Toy Manufacturing earlier this year. Some of these projects included manufacturing methods such as laser cutting, sewing, and mold making. Specifically, we highlighted the project these youth developed that stole the show at this year’s White House Science Fair, 3D printed bubble wands! Our Community Manager, Melissa Huch, was able to attend Capitol Hill Maker Faire for the first time and she loved how eager everyone was to meet our youth. “Typically when going to events, I am used to talking about DHF programs but this time, Elizabeth and Anthony took the reins. They did an amazing job explaining how they created each project and I was impressed how much they knew about 3D Printing, Tinkercad, and Doodlefab. Overall the event was incredible, and it was great meeting new Makers”, Melissa shared.


Our Mini Makers were big hit at the faire and had many important people in the maker and education community excited about their work. Steve Davee from Maker Ed was really excited to meet our Mini Makers and hear all about their projects.

And recently recognized White House Champion of Change, Sonya Pryor-Jones, was so enthusiastic about Lizzie’s “Savage Van” project that she had to share it with her friend Adam Savage on Twitter! Lizzie was so excited because she is a big Mythbusters fan!

Interim Executive Director, Shawn Grimes, said, “Maker Faire’s always feel like a reunion of sorts. I get to catch up with a lot of great people and see some really cool projects. It is honestly one of my favorite things to do throughout the year.” DHF always has so much fun at Maker Faire’s, and this was experience was no different. We enjoy getting to share our love of making with the community at both of these events, and we hope to participate again in the future. If you’re interested in learning more, you can check out National Maker Faire’s website here.

Upcoming Family Make Night: Screenprinting

Join us on 7/19 to explore Screenprinting. This is a great project for family members of all ages and one of our newest projects at DHF.

RSVP here


Each family will get to make their own screenprinted t-shirt. We will be using fabric ink and vinyl to make a cool personalized t-shirt!

Doors Open: 6:30pm; Arrive by 7:30pm to complete the activity.

PLEASE NOTE: We request that you bring a t-shirt, DHF will not provide any shirts. Thank you!

For more details and to RSVP, check out our Meetup page – Family Make Night: Screenprinting

Family Make Night: Laser-cut Lanterns

Lasercut Lanterns

For Digital Harbor Foundation’s May Family Make Night families learned how to create their own custom laser-cut lanterns! By using a vector drawing software called Inkscape families were able to follow a tutorial on our Family Make Night website to create a custom lantern.


Seeing everyone’s face light up with excitement as their lantern started to cut on the laser cutter reminded me of how excited I was the first time I saw the CO2 laser start to engrave and cut through something. Even more satisfying is the fact that these young makers made their own creations and ideas come to life! Check out some more pictures of the event on our Flickr page.

FMN - 3

This Family Make Night was an experiment in using the laser cutter for the first time with such a large group of people. Even though everyone was not able to walk away with a lantern in hand (because of the queue) everyone was able to have their lanterns available for pick up a few days later. With this successful integration of the laser cutter under our belts, be sure to keep an eye out for more laser cutting projects down the line for you and your family to participate in.

For more information checkout our Family Make Night website here: www.familymakenight.org

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.


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.



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.


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.



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?


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.


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.


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.


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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May 2016 Family Make Night: Lasercut Lanterns

In May, we are very excited to introduce laser cutting to our Family Make Night participants!

Join us for May Family Make Night to design your own lanterns. We will be making digital designs for our lanterns and then using the laser cutter to add our designs to paper lanterns.

RSVP here


Each family will get to make their own Paper Lantern using the laser cutter. You will use a computer design software tool called Inkscape to create your own custom designs and then work with DHF staff to use the laser cutter to cut your design from your lantern.

Doors Open: 6:30pm; Arrive by 7:30pm to complete the activity.

PLEASE NOTE: We request that you do not plan to arrive before 6:30pm at the earliest as our afterschool programs do not wrap up until then. Thank you!

For more details and to RSVP, check out our Meetup page – Family Make Night: Lasercut Lanterns.

FabSLAM Goes on Tour: Pittsburgh

In March we had the opportunity to provide our 3D Printing for Educators workshop as a kickoff for the first ever FabSLAM in Pittsburgh! Given that the 2016 FabSLAM theme is cities, it’s fitting that Digital Harbor Foundation has expanded FabSLAM beyond Baltimore. We were thrilled to help build the capacity of the coaches who will be forming and leading teams through the FabSLAM design and fabrication challenge.

Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Educators 1

From the first moment that the eleven educators began their training, the room was buzzing with excitement and an eagerness to begin their FabSLAM process. The theme of the challenge wasn’t unveiled until the third day, and the educators were on the edge of their seats until the moment of the big reveal.

The educators were welcoming and passionate about the training that they were receiving and absorbed every aspect of the workshop from the 3D design challenges to the calibration of the 3D printers. Since they are going to be responsible for leading their youth cohorts through the entirety of the FabSLAM process, each attendee wanted to make sure to design and print as much as possible throughout the three day event.

Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Educators 2
The educators were highly engaged and motivated as they navigated the interface of the design software and asked several questions while practicing some of the more advanced design tools and features that we presented. Their passion was evident as they made use of every spare minute to develop and practice their skills in order to empower and train youth. This especially came to the forefront when several educators chose to work through the lunch break, asking us questions as they anticipated potential issues that their youth may have while working on the design challenges.

Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Adam 1
One of the designs that stood out the most for me was in response to the design challenge where they were tasked with creating an object that would clip onto the workshop tables. We didn’t provide the educators with the table dimensions before the project started. Instead, we passed a digital caliper around the room and every educator took turns measuring the height of the table’s lip. This process of precision measurement was new to several in the room, but they knew that since they would be asking their youth to be willing to step outside of their comfort zones during FabSLAM, it would be good for them to also experience some slight discomfort at attempting a new skill.

I’m pleased to report that everyone successfully completed the design challenge and designed items that would clip onto the table. True to the spirit of FabSLAM and 3D design, there was lots of iteration that needed to happen. The most important part is that the educators were excited to learn from the mistakes and pass their insights onto the youth they’d be working with!

Pittsburgh 3D for Ed - Printing 1
It was an amazing experience to be able to take the FabSLAM program on the road and to work with such an inspiring group of educators who clearly demonstrated their energy and passion for youth development.

A huge thank you to Remake Learning who worked to bring FabSLAM to Pittsburgh, and to the Carnegie Science Center Fab Lab for graciously hosting the workshop. I look forward to seeing the projects that the Pittsburgh FabSLAM teams create!