Baltimore Youth Solve Transportation Problems with Digital Fabrication

Last week, DHF hosted our 6th FabSLAM Showcase as the culminating event for this cycle of the annual digital fabrication challenge. This year, during FabSLAM, Baltimore-area youth were prompted to identify a problem they might encounter using any form of transportation and then use digital fabrication methods, like 3D printing or laser cutting, to create a solution.

5th grader describes project to judge

On May 4th, 10 teams of youth in grades 5-11 from Baltimore and DC gathered at the DHF Tech Center to showcase their work to judges and each other. The finale showcase for FabSLAM is always exciting and inspiring and this year proved to be more of the same. Teams arrived ready to share their work with our equally enthusiastic team of judges who have the difficult task of selecting winners.

Our First Place prize was awarded to the Western High School TinkerDoves, for their high-tech bus stop design of improvements that could be made to the Penn North stop in Baltimore City. The judges were very impressed by their proposed solution to a hyper-local problem and one that they encounter on a daily basis on their commute to and from school.

WHS team presents project to FabSLAM judge

WHS team receiving 1st place prizes

Last year, second place was awarded to a Bryn Mawr School high school team, and this year Second Place was awarded to Mawrtian Nation 1, a Bryn Mawr School middle school team. Their project, The Seasick-Free Seat, used 3D printing to fabricate a prototype of a self-leveling chair that would be used on boats to allow “all people to have the most enjoyable sea-faring voyage possible.”

Bryn Mawr School team describes project to FabSLAM judge

Bryn Mawr School team with prize package and FabSLAM judge

Judges awarded Third Place to a DHF team, The Filamentors, for their Trash Collection Boat. The goal of their solution was to attach a fabricated net contraption to boats that are already traveling in the harbor to collect more trash.

Team Filamentors presenting FabSLAM project to audience

Filamentors presenting project to FabSLAM judge

Team Tabby Fab won the Fan Favorite vote from the audience for their Foldable Skateboard that they laser cut for easy storage in a backpack.

The remaining teams who participated had a great showing and we hope to have them all back next year! You can check out their projects here:

Ridgely Middle School FabSLAM team

Team: Ridgely 3D        School / Organization: Ridgely Middle School        Project: Console Trash Can

Greenhouse Turbine train

Team: Mawrtian Nation 2        School / Organization: Bryn Mawr School        Project: The Greenhouse Turbine Train

Fed Hill Prep team describing their FabSLAM project

Team: FabDestroyers        School / Organization: Federal Hill Prep Elementary        Project: Graphene Powered Hover Car

TGR Learning Lab sharing FabSLAM project with judge

Team: TGR Learning Lab        School / Organization: Cesar Chavez Public Charter School       Project: Fabulous Hovercar

Team Square One presents FabSLAM project

Team: Team Square One        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Key Collector with Breathalyzer

Bikers United sharing modified bike helmet

Team: Bikers United       School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Casco Fresco Helmet

 

A giant thank you goes out to our 2017 panel of Judges, without whom we could not run this program! We were honored to have so many judges representing many facets of a variety of industries.

In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSLAM 2017 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to MatterHackers, HatchboxBuildTak, LulzBot, DHF Print Shop, Direct Dimensions, and The Foundery for the generous donations of products, materials, and experiences that were awarded to all our teams.

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The Foundery Logo

Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSLAM 2017! 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 2017 Flickr Album

FabSLAM Baltimore 2017 Launches Today

Wow…it’s so hard to believe that this is our 6th cycle of FabSLAM! We are so excited to continue this program this year and to announce our challenge theme today.

What is FabSLAM?

FabSLAM is our annual, multi-week, team-based, digital fabrication competition. During this competition youth learn and practice design, iteration, and rapid prototyping skills primarily focused on 3D Design and 3D Printing. A challenge theme is presented and teams work to develop a product that fits the theme and meets any accompanying requirements. Teams work with a Coach to help guide the team through the challenge and aid in documentation. Everything culminates in a FabSLAM Showcase where teams present their products to a panel of judges and a public audience for review and feedback. Learn more about FabSLAM here.

Our 2016 First Place team, presenting their oyster habitat to judges

2017 Challenge Theme

This cycle’s challenge theme is TRANSPORTATION!

For this challenge theme, identify a problem you may encounter when using transportation that could be addressed using 3D printing and digital fabrication.

More information:

  • Identify a problem you might encounter when using any form of transportation.
  • Use digital fabrication methods (3D printing) to create a solution to the problem you have identified.
    • This might be a fabricated model of a new approach to a transportation system problem,
    • OR it might be a product that would solve a specific need or problem encountered when using transportation

Teams of youth in grades 3-12 (with an adult coach) are invited 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 on Thursday May 4, 2017.

If you have not registered for FabSLAM yet, simply click below to be taken to the Registration Page.

Register for FabSLAM Today!

We hope you’ll join us for this cutting-edge design and fabrication challenge!
 

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.

#SXSL Interactive Sign

Two years ago, two of our youth, Biren and Glory, created a sign for DHF whose color could be changed using a hashtag on Twitter. Today, that project has been scaled in size, magnitude and impact as it serves as one of the center pieces at the White House #SXSL event.

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The build of the larger version letters was overseen and managed by DHF’s former Baltimore Corps Fellow, Jen Schachter, and a very special guest, ADAM SAVAGE!!! Nearly 50 of DHF’s youth and members of the educator community helped assemble the sign.

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Each letter contains an LED strip and an Arduino device from Adafruit. Then a Raspberry Pi crawls twitter looking for the #SXSL hashtag and looks for certain keywords to make the lights react and change color.

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Adam was amazing to have in the space and he was a real inspiration to our youth, not because of his celebrity status, rather because he worked right alongside of us the entire time and treating us as peers. By the end of the 10 hour build process, he was just as sweaty, dirty, and exhausted as the rest of us.

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Commands

Send a tweet with the hash tag #SXSL that includes any of the following words to interact with the SXSL sign.

  • patriot
  • red
  • green
  • blue
  • yellow
  • violet
  • purple
  • orange
  • gold
  • pink
  • teal
  • cyan
  • sparkle
  • stars
  • rainbow
  • earth
  • farming
  • food
  • first lady
  • POTUS

3D Printing for Solving Baltimore’s Problems

Each year, DHF hosts our FabSLAM Challenge, where we invite teams of youth to use 3D printing and digital fabrication to create solutions to problems issued during the challenge. This year we had a great showing at our FabSLAM Finale Showcase with teams putting their fabrication skills and imagination to the test to solve problems they found in their city.

Our challenge theme this year was Cities to focus on very local problems youth might experience or be aware of, and to celebrate the fact that this year FabSLAM expanded to two new regions – Idaho State and Pittsburgh. Participating teams in each of those regions also responded to the same challenge. We will share more about those competitions in the coming weeks.

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This year, we had 10 teams from Maryland and DC competing who were eager to share their work at the showcase and meet the judges to share the work they’ve done over the last six weeks. Each team was asked to present their project, which should have used 3D printing and other digital fabrication techniques, as well as a website documenting their project and progress.

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.

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Our First Place prize was awarded to Digital Oyster Foundation, a middle school team representing Digital Harbor Foundation. In response to the challenge, they worked to create a solution to the problem of a dwindling oyster population in the Chesapeake Bay. 3D Printed reef balls were the centerpiece of the oyster habitats they created, which also included an artificial wetland. They received kudos from the judges on the practical and possible nature of their design, recommending that they could get started right away with implementing this solution.

This is the very first time that any DHF team has placed in the competition and we were very proud of their effort.

oystercollage

For the second year in a row, Second Place was awarded to Innovation Nation, a Bryn Mawr School team. Their project, Home Grown, used 3D printing to help imagine what could be done to solve the problem of vacant and abandoned buildings in Baltimore. This team of young ladies took on the challenge of “converting abandoned homes into places of growth” by turning vacant row houses into greenhouses where community gardens could thrive. Innovation Nation also won the Fan Favorite award!

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Third Place was awarded to another Bryn Mawr School team, Team Amasek, for their Storm Drain Filter. This project aimed to solve the problem of potentially toxic water runoff in Baltimore City storm drains thus contaminating the Chesapeake Bay. The product uses a simple design and a piece of charcoal for filtering the water as it enters the storm drain.

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For the very first time in 4 years, we had elementary school teams participate in FabSLAM! In fact, we had three elementary school teams participate and they did a great job for their first time! One of those teams, FHP Team from Federal Hill Prep Elementary, took home an Honorable Mention from the judges for their ‘R’ Treat Machine aimed at helping to reduce the amount of cigarette butts and gum found on the streets in their neighborhood.

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The remaining teams who participated had a great showing and we hope to have them all back in the future! You can check out their projects here:

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Team: Adventure Print        School / Organization: Bryn Mawr School        Project: Battery Box

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Team: Science Lions 3.0        School / Organization: Lakeland Elementary Middle School        Project: Rebuilding Abandoned Homes / Spikey Ice Crushers

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Team: TWLC        School / Organization: Tiger Woods Learning Center        Project: The New Utensil

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Team: Team Filter        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Water Bottle for Homeless

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Team: Neiva        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Trash Collecting Tree

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Team: Sleepless in Baltimore        School / Organization: Digital Harbor Foundation        Project: Sleeping Bag Cart for Homeless

 

In addition to all of our awesome youth teams and coaches, we would like to thank our incredible panel of judges for this 2016 cycle of FabSLAM! We couldn’t do this without your support and involvement and we are grateful for all the ways you make this program better!

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In addition to our awesome panel of judges and enthusiastic teams, we are also grateful for our FabSLAM 2016 Sponsors who provided prizes for the teams! Thank you to HatchboxPrintrbot, Proto-Pasta, Filabot, and Occipital for the generous donations of products and materials that were awarded to all our teams.

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Proto-pasta logo - white

 

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Occipital copy

Thank you to everyone who participated in FabSLAM 2016! 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 2016 Flickr Album

Be A Part of FabSlam 2015

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We are excited to announce our 4th cycle of FabSlam this week! We are kicking off FabSlam 2015 today with the announcement of our theme and open registration for youth teams.

This cycle’s theme is KITCHEN!

For this challenge theme, teams should design and create a product that solves a problem someone could encounter in the kitchen.

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, as long as you can attend the FabSlam Showcase at the end of the program.

Ready to Register? Click here!

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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 their products to a panel of judges and a public audience for review and feedback.

Register Your Team Today!