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:

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.


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.


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


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.


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:

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.

Congratulations to DHF Youth Grant Recipients!

Amiri Williams

We are very proud of DHF Member Amiri Williams who has led a team of students who have received grant funding from Youth as Resources (YAR) to start 3D Garden, a community garden in front of the DHF Tech Center! 3D Garden youth will recycle biodegradable plastic from 3D printer filament into compost for their garden.

The 3D Garden team went through a rigorous grant application process in order to secure funding for their project. They completed a YAR grant application and provided a budget and timeline of how they would use the funding. All three youth also made a presentation to the YAR board, which is a grant board made up entirely of Baltimore-area students.

Amiri, the leader of the 3D Garden group, got the idea for the garden because of his passion for 3D Printing and concern for the environment. Most plastic filament from 3D printing is biodegradable, but is often thrown away and not recycled. Amiri wanted to start 3D Garden to start a movement to encourage community members to recycle filament, and build awareness for composting and recycling in the local Federal Hill community.

Their garden is expected to be completed this summer, and we will keep you posted with progress and updates! Once the garden is up and running, you can also drop off 3D filament to be composted for the garden.

Meet our 2015 Maker Corps Members


We are so excited to kickoff our third year participating in MakerEd’s Maker Corps program as a Host Site for Maker Corps Members! This summer we have two Maker Corps Members – Richelle & Laura – who will be joining us for summer programming. So far, these two have been motivated and enthusiastic and are off to an amazing start! They will both be working primarily with our Mini Makers Maker Camp, which is our elementary summer program, supporting exciting camps like filmmaking, 3D printing, and game design. In addition to working directly with youth, Laura and Richelle will also be working on an exciting e-textiles project during their designated Maker-in-Residence time this summer! Here’s a little more information about each of them, in their own words.

FullSizeRender Richelle Vargas

Hi everybody! My name is Richelle Vargas and I will be working with 1st through 5th graders as a Maker Corps Member this summer at DHF. I was born and  raised in Miami, FL and just graduated with a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts in Interactive Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Next May, I will graduate  with an MAT in Art Education.

This summer I am looking forward to sharing my curiosity of tech and tinkering with younger children. It inspires me so much to see little kids creating with  and understanding technology at such a young age. DHF is a space that combines teaching, collaboration, art, and tech – in other words a great environment for  me to become a better teacher and mentor. One last thing I’m excited about with Maker Corps is collaborating with Laura on our Maker-in-Residence project.  We will be teaching ourselves together about wearable electronics, and then develop a lesson or project that will be able be taught to future students!

FullSizeRender Laura Wright
My name is Laura Wright and I am currently an industrial and interaction design student at Syracuse University. I am passionate about applying design  thinking to a multitude of different problems and situations. I love design research and experimenting with new materials and software. When I’m not in  design/maker world, I love being outside and doing a bunch of different outdoorsy activities.

I am extremely looking forward to see what the kids create this summer at DHF. I am excited to see all the different routes that each individual will take to  reach an end goal. I am also looking forward to sharing my love for exercising creative muscles and engaging in hands on activities. I can’t wait to start planning  curriculum for each different unit in Maker Camp.

The DHF staff have welcomed Laura and Richelle and we are all looking forward to working with them to deliver some of our best summer programming yet!

Thank You AOL Volunteers



Every year AOL sets up a global volunteer day called Monster Help Day, in which AOL employees take time outside of the office hours, to help their local community. This year Digital Harbor Foundation was honored to be one out of 68 global partners for Monster Help Day 2015.

This was our third year partnering with AOL for Monster Help Day and we were seeking help with a few in-house improvements for our Tech Center. The AOL volunteers were eager and friendly and, in just a few hours, completed many projects to bring more polish to our space.

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Green Screen Wall – This was a project our Mini Makers (and Staff!) are really excited about! The green screen wall will be used for our upcoming Film Maker Maker Camp. (PS: We still have spots available in our Film Maker Maker Camp session for 3-5th grade!)

Youth Bulletin Board – We have been in need of a bulletin board to share information about upcoming workshops and opportunities to all our youth and families. AOL Volunteers helped install and decorate the Youth Bulletin Board.

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Community Bulletin Board – We are always excited to learn about new events and opportunities in the Baltimore City Community. Now, we are even more excited to have a bulletin board to help promote new events and share information with our youth and families.

Director’s Office – When the Tech Center made its transformation from Rec to Tech, we needed an office space that was closed off from other rooms, so we had to make our own wall to split one giant room into two. That was about 2 years ago and that wall still needed some TLC. AOL volunteers helped spackle and finish the wall in the Director’s Office, it looks amazing and has made the room look more finished.


Lego Interactive Wall – The Tech Center gets lots of visitors of all ages, and we have been dreaming of an interactive Lego Wall for a long time. Our awesome volunteers helped bring this dream into its first version of reality! Come visit to check out our Lego Wall and create a design of your own!

A giant Thank You to all the AOL Volunteers for taking the time to help us on Monster Help Day. It is always a pleasure to work with you each year and we look forward to the next opportunity!

Seeking Volunteer with PHP/MySQL experience

Do you have experience with PHP and MySQL? Do you want to put your skills to use to help DHF bring technology education to more youth? Digital Harbor Foundation is looking for a volunteer to help us build out the front end of our student database. We’re looking for someone with the following technical experience:

  • Experience w/ PHP and MySQL required.
  • Experience w/ Laravel or other PHP frameworks desired.

Does this sound like you? Email Greer Mellon at for more information.




Guest Speaker: Richelle Vargas

This May in the Tech Center, the youth have been busy brainstorming, planning, and creating amazing projects that will be proudly displayed in the Spring Showcase tomorrow! In the early stages of planning their projects, Richelle Vargas, a talented interactive arts major at MICA (who also helps with the building of fantastic sets at Port Discovery), gave an amazing presentation on a piece she titled Conversation 2. Conversation 2 is a sculpture project Richelle completed using Arduino and an Xbox Kinect to program a silicone face that reacts to the movement of the person in front of it that the sensors pick up, and then changes expression based on that person’s movement each time. She explained to the youth that she drew her inspiration from the expressive nature of cartoons and her fascination with mimicking those expressions.


Richelle’s project went through many phases, starting with a prototype using 3D printed gears, moving onward to a smaller silicone face using strings attached to motors and sensors to move.  Richelle then moved onward to a more functional version, bigger in size using face mask casting and gears internally to move. Richelle’s project proved to be a great inspiration  to the youth in attendance because it expressed the importance of prototyping and improving design. Richelle discussed in detail with the youth the trial and error process that was behind the sculpture as well as amazing skills she taught herself along the way to get to the final result. Richelle’s presentation on her sculpture was an awesome example of how far you can take an idea if you continue to work at it. Since the presentation, Richelle has accepted a position as a Maker Corps Member and will be working at DHF this summer with our elementary Maker Camp!


Seeking Volunteer Guest Speakers

Are you interested in getting involved at the DHF Tech Center and helping youth? Do you have a career in a technology field? If the answer to both of these questions is YES, then this message is for you!

One of our goals at DHF is to create an environment that inspires youth to make and explore their interest in tech-related fields, and while providing them with the environment to learn new skills is one of the things we do, it is always important for them to see how those skills contribute to their future.

We are currently seeking community members who have careers in technology fields to volunteer as Guest Speakers in our Career Series. The goal of this series is to highlight possible careers and opportunities that youth may pursue in technology fields. Volunteers will be asked to talk with our youth participants about their technology careers and the pathways that lead them to those careers.

Belinda & Terry Kilby of Elevated Element talk with youth about their Aerial Photography.

We ask that Guest Speakers plan to spend between 1-2 hours engaged in a casual conversation with our youth (ages 11-18) during the times of our after-school program, 4-6pm.

Fields of interest include but are not limited to:

  • Graphic Design
  • Programming
  • Engineering
  • Digital Fabrication
  • Web Development
  • Game Development
  • Software Development

Email for more information or register as a volunteer here. We hope to see you soon!