Digital Harbor Foundation’s 5th Anniversary Showcase

More than 200 youth, parents, and community members attended Digital Harbor Foundation’s 5th Anniversary Showcase, one of our highest attended showcases to date. Youth presented projects such as a flashlight made out of recycled materials, an Arduino programmed lamp, and an Arduino-powered cardboard gauntlet. Sam Mitchell, Sorensen Wynn, and Eli Edmondson used Python programming to create a multiplayer game in Minecraft. The object of the game is to destroy bricks under another player in order to increase your own score.

“I walked away for a couple minutes and when I came back, everyone was playing it!” said Sam.

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Jordan Bocklage programmed a headband with wipers for her glasses, a project she had been wanting to make for the past two years since she took the Maker Foundations course. Right before the showcase, she couldn’t find the code to make the wipers move in unison and had to problem solve an alternative way to achieve her desired effect. After she showcased her work, Jordan told her parents and staff that this was only one version of her final work and that more prototypes were to come.

Mayen Nelson used his knowledge of circuitry and digital fabrication he learned in Maker Foundations to create a working laptop using a Raspberry Pi. Mayen worked down to the wire perfecting measurements for his laptop’s frame and finding a screen that worked the way he intended.

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In addition to being a showcase of our youth’s hard work, this showcase was also an opportunity to reflect on the past five years since DHF had the opportunity to reopen an unused recreation center.

“We came to work every day to a mostly empty space,” said Director of Programs, Steph Grimes.

Since then, DHF has expanded to offer courses in digital fabrication and programming to youth from 90 schools in and around Baltimore as well job opportunities and college credit. Several youth have presented projects at the White House and, last year, a DHF project inspired Adam Savage’s SXSL installation. Youth have also championed initiative such as Makerettes, the 3D Print Shop, and Harbor Hacks, the first Baltimore hackathon created by youth for youth.

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Andrew Coy, DHF’s Executive Director, unveiled the new Expanding Tech Education Initiative, a plan to explore expanding informal tech education for underrepresented communities using makerspaces. The initiative will be funded by a research grant from the National Science Foundation EAGER program. Three sites will be selected to participate in the 18-month pilot program. Each site will receive $25K in new equipment and consumable material for curriculum implementation. The intention of this research is to find ways to create sustainable and diverse makerspaces in communities that could benefit from them.

On Thursday, February 1st at 4pm, DHF will host a conference call that will go through the details of the program and the selection process. If you’re interested in learning more information about DHF’s plans and process for the initiative, RSVP for the informational call!

Digital Harbor Foundation and Community College of Baltimore County Announce College Credit for After-school Courses

Digital Harbor Foundation (DHF) announced today a partnership with Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) to offer college credit to high school youth enrolled in DHF’s after-school program.

The courses offered as part of this program are focused on Digital Fabrication. Upon completion of the after-school courses and accompanying requirements, high school youth enrolled in DHF’s program will be eligible to earn 3 college credits equivalent to the CCBC DFAB101 course, which is part of the Associate of Applied Science degree.

The Executive Director of the Digital Harbor Foundation, Shawn Grimes, said “I feel great pride in my staff for having created such high quality after-school programs that they should receive this distinct recognition by the higher-ed community. CCBC is a leader in recognizing that impactful learning can happen outside the walls of traditional education and providing youth with meaningful on-ramps into college. This is a landmark moment for the movement toward formal support for informal learning.”

Doug Kendzierski, Chair of the Applied Technology Programs at CCBC explains, “This bridge partnership is consistent with CCBC’s commitment to broaden the pipeline for Digital Fabrication, a high-demand and quickly emerging sector of the manufacturing industry. Baltimore City high school students will be mastering college-level content for eventual transfer and college completion, as well as professional industry employment with highly competitive wages. CCBC is excited about our participation in this project, and look forward to expanding the model both within the Baltimore City School System, and beyond”.

“Anytime CCBC can help high school students earn college credit for the enhanced work they perform in their high school program, we are delighted to assist,” notes CCBC President Sandra L. Kurtinitis. “We are proud of the partnership our faculty and theirs have forged to make this opportunity possible.”

The 3-year agreement began in early Fall 2016 and there are currently nearly ten high school students piloting the program and courses at DHF. This first group of students are expected to complete this pilot in May 2017, at which time they will be able to apply for credit through CCBC.

Get on the Map! 3D Mapping Maryland Project

We are excited to be collaborating with the Maryland State Department of Education on a 3D Mapping Maryland Project and are requesting participation from all school systems.

This crowd-sourced 3D printing project will result in a massive puzzle reflecting a Maryland topographical map. In order to develop this puzzle, each school system or public library with a 3D printer will be provided access to their county/city’s online template. The 3D pieces from each county will be collected, then the map will be assembled by students either before or during the presentation at the Governor’s Office on Digital Learning Day, February 23, 2017. More information will be available closer to the start of this project.

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The kick-off for this event will occur on Saturday, November 5th, during Maryland’s first statewide Maker education conference, the Make. IT. Work. Conference at Eastern Tech High School. Templates will also be released on this date. Additional conference information can be found at https://dhf.io/makeitwork.

For a look at a similar project, check out the We the Builders‘ crowd-sourced 3D printed sculpture of Edgar Allan Poe.

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The We the Builders team created a digital replica of Edgar Allan Poe and shared the spliced files online. Individual Makers and Makerspaces from around the world contributed all the pieces of this sculpture.

PS – The newest We the Builders project, Rosie the Riveter, was sculpted at DHF and is now live! You can also participate in this project, so claim your pieces today. Learn more here: Rosie the Riveter

Meet Mary Reisenwitz, Mid-High Program Specialist

 

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Mary was born and raised in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and moved to Baltimore in 2011 to attend the Maryland Institute College of Art.  She studied painting at MICA, but became more interested in digital media and fabrication during her junior and senior years there.  Right now, her studio practice involves generating moiré patterns digitally and plotting them with ballpoint pens and vinyl cutters.  She also works collaboratively to develop toys and puzzles for education.  In addition to working at DHF, she manages the MCS (Make Cool Stuff) lab at MICA.

 

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Favorite thing about working at DHF (so far):

Honestly, I have really enjoyed working directly with the kids at DHF.  They have an energy and curiosity that is highly contagious.  It has been especially exciting to see them develop projects that utilize 3D printing and the Makey Makeys.  My background involves a lot of 3D printing, but I’ve usually been bound to tight constraints through work or school.  Here, the students are given a lot of creative license and they have really pushed the boundaries in my own mind about what can be done with a simple set up.  At the same time, it’s been really rewarding for me to learn alongside the students, as has been the case with the Makey Makeys.  I don’t have as much experience with electronics, so I had some anxiety about assisting in teaching this unit initially.  Ultimately, I found the setup really intuitive to use, but seeing the kids bring their ideas to life taught me so much more than I could have learned on my own.

 

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What I’m looking forward to working on/doing at DHF:

I am incredibly excited to continue working with the Makerettes. All of the girls I’ve worked with in Maker Foundations are incredibly smart and equally motivated.  One of my goals is to direct that energy towards additional projects that excite them that they wouldn’t have the opportunity to work on in the program.  This might mean using technology outside the boundaries of Maker Foundations, such as the vinyl or laser cutters.  It could also mean working collaboratively for longer periods of time on more advanced projects together.  In the past, the Makerettes have worked on projects that stay at DHF and enhance the visual environment; I want to continue that tradition as well.  Most of all, I want to get to know the girls at DHF a little better and do what I can to create a welcoming space for the girls to make within and keep coming back to.

 

We are very excited to have Mary as part of our team here at DHF as a Program Specialist! She brings enthusiasm and a variety of skills she is anxious to apply to our Makerettes program, which is awesome! We look forward to working more with Mary and seeing her impact grow here at DHF.

Come Celebrate our Anniversary

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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

Meet Jen Schachter, Special Projects Manager

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Jen is a New York native who came to Baltimore for school nine years ago and fell in love with the city. She graduated from MICA in 2010 with a Fine Arts degree, but found herself building and tinkering more often than painting and drawing. After a number of freelance visual display jobs, and curating gallery shows at Brewer’s Art, Jen moved on to Under Armour, where she wrote visual communication to stores across the country on store layout and merchandise display. Continuing to search for work that fulfilled her passions and desire to work for a better cause, Jen learned of a fellowship program through Baltimore Corps, a new social entrepreneurship start-up in the city. As soon as she found Digital Harbor Foundation, Jen knew this was where she was meant to be.

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What has been your favorite thing about working at DHF so far?

I get to make things every day! It’s been a long time since I had the chance to open a sketchbook at work, and now I use it constantly. When I’m not wielding drills and saws, I’m diagramming the next project and brainstorming with a team who shares the same passions for creating. And it’s so rewarding to know that my design challenges are focused on making the space better for the youth who come here to learn and explore.

Digifab Before + After

What are you looking forward to working on / doing at DHF?

I have so many ideas for the space itself and how we can elevate the functionality and visual appeal. I think we can make the Tech Center even more interactive and showcase student and staff work in new and creative ways. One of the things that excites me most is the idea that our work will be a blueprint for other Makerspaces across the country. The work I did at Under Armour definitely informs that, so I’m excited to see where that project can go.

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We are so happy to have Jen on board here at DHF as our Special Projects Manager! She has been a valuable addition to our team and brings a much needed skill-set and enthusiasm for making and documenting. We look forward to continuing to work with Jen and learn more about her.

 

Thanking our Key Supporters

 

What better way to celebrate Giving Tuesday than by hosting an event to thank all of those who have supported us in some way? On December 1st we hosted our annual Key Supporters event in the form of a breakfast and networking opportunity.  Each year we host a Key Supporters Breakfast to mark the anniversary of the date we first received keys to the South Baltimore Rec Center to begin converting the space into the DHF Tech Center. The purpose of this event is to express gratitude and appreciation to all the people and organizations who have helped to support our mission over the last year and it is always a heartwarming opportunity to take pause and reflect on the work we have done and what we have all accomplished together over the last year.

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This year, one of the things we asked attendees to participate in as part of this event was a discussion about ways that we can continue to serve our community from their point of view. We also asked them to contribute advice, suggestions, and thoughts on how to move this work into part of a national conversation. We received a lot of great ideas and actionable requests as part of this discussion and it was a meaningful opportunity to hear what our key supporters are looking for as we move forward into our 4th year of operations.

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Each year, we issue a thank you note to each of our supporters in addition to a keepsake keychain that someone on staff has made. In past years, this was a simple 3D printed anchor logo keychain and a more complicated 3D printed key. This year, our staff worked to create these awesome lasercut and laser engraved keychains representing ‘3D Danny’ – a character created by our Community Manager, Melissa Huch, that has been used on much of our program branding this year. We were all really pleased with how these small tokens of appreciation turned out and were excited to give them to our community members!

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We’d like to extend another giant THANK YOU to our 2015 Key Supporters for their guidance, collaboration, time, resources, and overall support!

Announcing 3D Assistance

3D Assistance is a new program co-created by a former DHF youth and now staff member, Darius McCoy, and Director of Technology, Shawn Grimes. The purpose of the program is to leverage the 3D printing skills that Darius and other youth have acquired at DHF to help educators and other community members who own 3D printers with troubleshooting and repair services.

3D Assistance working on a printer

3D Assistance was piloted as an internal project within the walls of DHF repairing our fleet of 3D printers used by the youth on an almost daily basis. Darius selected a few youth to work with him and he worked alongside a couple staff mentors to train the team on how to troubleshoot common issues and make repairs.

3D Assistance Helping Out

After training the youth and giving them some time to gain experience, we expanded the program to offer support to our 3D Printing for Educators workshop attendees. The 3D Assistance team would float around the room helping the educators troubleshoot their own issues and teaching them common solutions. As the teachers left the workshops, they felt more confident because they had learned to fix common problems themselves and they also knew who they could reach out to if there was something they couldn’t figure out.

“I was frustrated by the number of schools I visited that said they have a 3D printer but it is never used because they *think* it is broken and no one knows how to fix it. It was clear that there was an opportunity to help the community by making some of our in-house expertise available to others.” — Shawn Grimes, Director of Technology

3D Assistance has been answering questions over email and repairing printers that are dropped off to the tech center. They have also been developing processes and creating support documentation for common issues and building the skills needed for customer support relations. Recently, they have even begun to handle the sale and inventory our 3D printers.

“Printrbot not only endorses this program, we are proud of these young people and adults using their skills to help others! A community network of users and experts quickly builds confidence in users. We recommend you take advantage of this resource. ” — Brook Drumm, CEO/Founder of Printrbot

3D Assistance is currently a 3 member youth team with additional staff support but will grow to meet demand. They currently service our 15+ 3D printers at DHF and support the more than 95 educators who have been through our 3D Printing for Educators workshops. The team also serves as inspiration for other youth who might be interested in joining the team as their skills progress.

“Having the 3D assistance team available has been a lifesaver for me. Seemingly always available, willing to help with a smile, and excellent at what they do, they have saved our printing program multiple times. From extrusion issues to broken motors, they not only help fix your problem, but educate you along the way, so we can tackle similar problems ourselves in the future. Couldn’t ask for a more professional and knowledgable team. Five stars!” — Scott Dellosso, Teacher, Perryville Middle School

For more information on 3D Assistance, you can visit: http://old.digitalharbor.org/3dassistance/

3D Assistance Helping Out

 

Help Us Offer Field Trips in 2016

 

In 2015, Digital Harbor Foundation piloted a 3D Printing Field Trip Initiative because we believe every student and every educator should have access to technology skills and the exposure to tech career paths. Our goal is to bring field trips back to DHF and to make them accessible, but we need your help to make this possible.

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Our 3D printing field trip focuses on teaching youth and educators the core concepts of 3D printing and digital design skills through hands-on application. In addition to learning about the variety of uses for 3D printing and some possible career paths, every participant has the opportunity to design and print a take-home item as well as contribute to a community project.

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Number of Students Served in DHF Field Trips (Jan – May 2015)

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Percentage of students who saw a 3D printer for the first time at DHF

During the 2014-2015 school year, we served 676 students and 84% of the students who participated on field trips were minority youth (non-Caucasian). In addition, roughly 53% of the students who participated in field trips were female. 81% of our participating schools had the average rate of low-income students (measured by FARM eligibility). Our field trips can make an impact and expose youth to new possibilities, but we need your support and help to bring them back.

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On this Giving Tuesday (and all through December) we are raising funds to support our field trip program so that we can offer these enriching experiences to even more youth in and around Baltimore. To learn more about how to help, please visit our crowdfunding campaign: digitalharbor.org/fieldtrips

Thank You To Our Veterans

We are pleased to partner with The Mission Continues, an organization that empowers veterans to serve their country in new ways. Our Mission Continues fellow is Paul “AmmoCan” Silva who is serving as a tech specialist with us.  Paul has a wealth of knowledge about web development and WordPress that he has been using to provide insight and direction on our WebSLAM program. He has been creating new content and resources about web development for our youth and staff. In addition to his Tech Specialist duties, Paul has also been volunteering to help with our youth programs including helping out last night at our Family Make Night.

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We are very thankful to have Paul be a member of the DHF team and thank him and all of our veterans for their brave service to our country.