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.

DHF Admin Make Night

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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

image-makereducation-gamedesign

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

Announcing IAP 3D Printer Recipients

We were overwhelmed by the responses to the Innovation Access Program, and were inspired by the many innovative ideas that you submitted for how you would use the printer with your youth.  We are excited to announce that we will be awarding a PrintrBot Simple 3D Printer and associated training to the 48 educators listed below. Even if you don’t see your name, we would still love to work with you – keep reading at the bottom of the page to find out how we can bring your 3D Printing plans to fruition.

First Last State
Georgia Tompkins Alaska
Danielle LoPresti Arizona
Rachel Galliani California
Heidi Ragsdale Colorado
Crystal Caouette Connecticut
Katelynn Scott Delaware
Kimberlynn  Jurkowski DC
Mary Fish Florida
Misty Nemeth Georgia
Jayson Reynon Hawaii
Kalynda Pearce Idaho
Gretchen Brinza Illinois
Jessica Suri Indiana
Alyssa Calhoun Iowa
Katie Don Carlos Kansas
Jason Hurst Kentucky
Karen Bean Louisiana
Carrie Emerson Maine
Tracy Hodge Maryland
Jenny Kostka Massachusetts
Chance Kemp Michigan
Jennifer Klecatsky Minnesota
Angela Johnson Mississippi
Gary Duncan Missouri
Stephanie DeBiasio Montana
Gwynette Williams Nebraska
Jillian Welch Nevada
Douglas Stith New Hampshire
Holly Rebovich New Jersey
Daniel de Leon New Mexico
Deborah Kravchuk New York
Deborah Dreyer North Carolina
Shannon Blomker North Dakota
Jennifer Haag Ohio
Bobby Reed Oklahoma
Carrie Carden Oregon
Brad Gentile Pennsylvania
Corey Lennon Rhode Island
Susan Merrill South Carolina
Joanna Law Tennessee
Deborah Cuellar Texas
Deborah Draper Utah
Jack Adams Vermont
vonita foster Virginia
Jessie Adkins Washington
Luke Hladek West Virginia
Becky Nutt Wisconsin
Alleta Baltes Wyoming

I’m getting a 3D Printer! What do I do now?

Tell a friend, tell your students, tell the world – and then sit tight. We’ll be getting in touch regarding the dates of our upcoming workshops as well as coordinating if we can run a workshop in your area.

I wasn’t selected 🙁 What now?

We still want to work with you 🙂 ! If you are able to travel to our Tech Center in Baltimore, we’ve got a 3D Printing workshop (printer included) this December! Check scheduled workshops here. If you can’t make it to Baltimore – we can try coming to you! To do a workshop in your area we need a hosting organization in which to run the workshop, a sponsoring organization to help fund it, and at least ten participants. Past hosts & funders have included State Science/STEM Action Centers, specific school districts, local foundations or organizations, and makerspaces. If you think you may know anyone who fits into the three categories listed above, please take a minute to complete this form and we’ll be in touch.

Thank you again for your participation! As you continue to make with your youth, feel free to check out the free resources on our Blueprint website, and if you want to receive periodic updates on making with youth, sign up for our Maker Educator Newsletter at dhf.io/nws. Finally, we hope to be able to run this program again in coming years, so keep in touch via any of social media channels displayed on the tool bar on the right side of this page.

Vinyl Logo Design by Youth

When you are a kid, you reach this point where you think you hold the barometer of cool. I know I thought I had it all figured out. “That kid is cool because he has those shoes….” “That girl is cool because she has that kind of backpack.” One group of people I couldn’t understand as a kid were the gear-heads. They talked engines, cc’s, rpms, and other things that were foreign to me. Since I didn’t understand, I mostly thought what they talked about was dumb and useless. When I caught the maker bug, I realized the fallacy in my pattern of thought. The unknown became more intriguing, and those who were wired differently became valuable.

Here at school, I recognize that many of those same judgments still happen. The sports people are esteemed. The smart people are criticized for doing too well. And the tech squad is treated with so much ambivalence. This is a post to give those guys some credit. They are makers as much as the next…

So Skylar in 12th grade is a metal guy. No we are not talking dark, loud music. We are talking about metal fabrication. The kid loves to weld. He is most at home working in the shop, tinkering with heated metal. He loves cars, and his crew of friends have been customizing vehicles.

The story comes together for me when Skylar asks about making a vinyl decal for their group. They are called the Misfit Mulisha. As Skylar says about their name, “Misfits cause we tend to have different taste and styles then everyone else.”

So Skylar sketched up a logo for their group. It was just a simple pencil and paper drawing:

Misfit Cropped

From there, we took a picture of the drawing. Then with a jpeg of the drawing, we transferred the image into Cricut. We cleaned it up a little bit, and within moments we were popping out vinyl decals for each of the vehicles. As Skylar says, “[We are a] Group of friends that hangout and help each other work on each others trucks and cars. [We] Like going to car shows and cruising around together.”

Here are some great shots of the decals in place, and also some great shots of true makers.

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Ian Snyder is a science teacher and 3D printing coach at Northumberland Christian School. He also runs a makerspace at The Refuge. Ian is one of our 2015 Perpetual Innovation Fund recipients and will be sharing more updates throughout the year. You can follow him on Twitter @ateachr or catch some shots on Instagram at mriansnyder. Read more from Ian…

DHF Presents: Admin Make Night

image-makereducation-3dprinting

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

image-makereducation-gamedesign

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

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.

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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.
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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

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.


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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!

Educators: Learn More about Digital Badges

This spring and summer we are very excited to be working with the Maryland Out of School Time Network (MOST) , the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Employment Development (MOED)’s YouthWorks program, and Hire One Youth to offer technology skill digital badges to Baltimore youth. The goal of this collaboration is to provide informal, online learning opportunities for youth working within these summer job programs to become certified in tech skill areas.

Digital Badges are…

  • Micro-certifications that demonstrate specific skills to potential employers
  • Tokens that recognize achievements that go unrecognized by formal assessments
  • Issued by members of the Open Badge Community

 

Wordpress BadgeDHF_BadgesSoldering Graphic Design Badge JavaScript Badge
 

Available Badges

We have decided to focus on 4 different skill badges this summer in different technology areas. Each of these badges has its own requirements and can be worked on by individuals independently online through the accompanying resources. To learn more about the badge requirements and access resources for each badge, click on the name of each badge.

Earning Badges

Educators, the best way to learn more about these badges and how you can help youth earn them is to attend one of our informational meetings on Wednesday, April 20th at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center:

  • Daytime: 12:30pm
  • Evening: 5:30pm

RSVP here to join us!

Alternatively, you can learn more on our Badges page on our website. Please feel free to email us at contact@digitalharbor.org with any questions.

FabSLAM Goes to Idaho

A few weeks ago, Shawn, Jen, and I traveled to Boise, Idaho to kickoff FabSLAM as part of our national expansion of the program this year. We traveled to Boise to deliver our 3D Printing for Educators workshop to train the Coaches who will be leading teams for FabSLAM in Idaho.

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We had the opportunity to work with 22 educators from 15 different schools and organizations from all over the state, and had a wonderful time! These were some of the most enthusiastic educators we have worked with and extremely warm and welcoming.

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Photo by Otto Kitsinger for Idaho STEM Action Center

Over the course of three days, participants learned all about how to use their 3D printers issued as part of the workshop, design their own objects to be printed, and search Thingiverse for inspiration and interest-generating prints to take back and share with their students. One of our favorite designs from the workshop was for one of the design challenges during the workshop – a mini documentation station for an iPhone made by C. Boothby.

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This was a great group of educators who really worked to bring their ideas to life and enjoyed themselves during the workshop. We were very excited to teach them all about FabSLAM and share everything we have learned to help them successfully bring this program to Idaho. We have never “taught” FabSLAM before to anyone, and it was very energizing and inspiring to work with such a receptive group of educators who are thrilled to launch this program with their youth.

A very special Thank You to Erica and Angela at the Idaho STEM Action Center who worked to bring FabSLAM to Idaho this year, and Jessica and Diana from Discovery Center Idaho for hosting our workshop all week! We fell in love with Boise and thoroughly enjoyed our time working with you and your educators!

Read more about this workshop in this article: Idaho’s STEM Helps 15 Schools Get 3D Printers

Interactive Game Insight: Football Physics

The best way to answer the question “What is an interactive gaming experience?” is to look at a project! This is a game created by one of our youth in our Interactive Game Design Member course, and his game is a perfect expression of the skills covered in the Interactive Games for Educators workshop.

We are offering this workshop because of the powerful impact that teaching game design can have in the classroom. Youth will develop the foundations of computer programming through a medium that is fun and accessible for them while creating a product that they’ll have complete ownership over. By integrating game design into the classroom, educators are able to engage youth to learn new skills through an exciting format: the video game. An added bonus is that through the creation process, youth will shift from being consumers of games to producers of exciting content!

The first aspect of the project we’re going to look at are the sprites. All of the characters, backgrounds, and objects were created by the youth for this project.

IGforED Sprites Example

He decided to make a sports game that tests his knowledge of physics, as he had to determine how to program the arcs and physics of passing a football from the player character to the non-player characters.

The “brain” of this project was created using Scratch, a free web-based visual game engine developed by the MIT Media Lab. These projects help build planning skills for youth, as they need to determine what behavior and mechanics they have to develop in order to bring their vision to life. Once this crucial phase is complete, youth then use Scratch for their coding. The visual nature of Scratch provides an accessible experience for youth and enables them to develop and explore the fundamentals of programming in a fun, engaging way. Here is a screenshot of some of the code used in this featured project:

IGforED Scratch Example

The blocks in Scratch are chunks of code that can be manipulated and combined logically into scripts which form the basis of the game’s function and programming. Scratch blocks are broken into categories that are representative of core programming concepts, such as Events, Control, and Operators. Scratchers can then manipulate these blocks to form chunks of code that build into their game mechanics. Scratch still requires an understanding of programmatic thinking, especially variable use and conditional logic (if->then statements).

The next step is to integrate physical interactivity into the project! Once the core of the game is created in Scratch, the Makey Makey (another invention from the MIT Media Lab) is added to act as a gateway between conductive objects and the computer. The integration of these components is typically done as a game controller, but youth have lots of freedom to build this however they envision. This is a step that can be built into the design process and planning phase of the project. For this particular project, the youth designer decided to create a physical controller that matched the theme of his game. As the game is a football game that tests his knowledge of physics, he decided that the controller should also fit this theme and made a throwable football controller!

IGforED MakeyMakey 1

The controller’s main structure is crafted from aluminum foil, a conductive material. He also had to make a landing pad for the football so that it would complete the circuit once the “pass” is complete. This physical integration is a perfect opportunity for youth to creatively test their problem solving and design skills, as there are occasionally quirks and challenges that arise when working with physical components. However, since the youth have ownership over their projects there often is a higher degree of perseverance and determination to stick with their interactive game despite any difficulties.

One of the strengths of integrating an interactive gaming experience into the classroom is that it provides youth with a creative platform for designing unique products that combine problem solving, iteration, and critical thinking.

We wanted to develop a workshop for educators to build their capacity in the skills utilized in creating interactive gaming experiences with youth.

Educators that attend the Interactive Games for Educators workshop will leave with an Interactive Games Starter Kit as well as access to additional “Going Further” lessons and resources that build on the base skills covered in the workshop. Now is a fantastic time to integrate Game Design into the classroom as it is a industry that is rising in popularity with several possible career paths and deep educational potential.

Learn more or register for this workshop today!