Thank You for Seven Years

Over the past 7 years a lot has changed at the Digital Harbor Foundation, but one thing has been more consistent than any other fact — and that has been the steady presence of Shawn and Steph Grimes. With deep gratitude for all that they have contributed, I write to share their departure from the team.

I was recently looking back at a presentation made during our 5th Anniversary Showcase, and am reminded now of the impact Shawn and Steph have had on each piece of this reflection:

An email from Shawn last week let staff and a number of community members know, saying:

“It is with a heavy heart that we write this email. Over the last 7 years, Steph and I have poured our passion and soul into helping to shape DHF and bring its mission to life. In order to make room for new faces, new perspectives, and new ideas on how to best carry DHF’s work forward to new beginnings, it is time for the two of us to move on. We are very sad to be leaving but know that it will be mutually beneficial for the organization and us.”

On Friday, Shawn, Steph, and Ruby wrapped up transition items and said a lot of goodbyes.

While we don’t know exactly what the road will bring, we look forward to seeing how paths will cross and ways they may wind together again in the not-too-distant future. At this moment in time though, it is with deep gratitude that I want to express my appreciation for everything both of them have given to the youth, the space, and the organization. Their marks on each one of those will be deep and lasting.

– Andrew Coy

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.

showcase room

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.

rpi laptop

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.

scratch game

scratch game

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!

The Makerettes Present: Be the Light

At the beginning of the fall season, the Makerettes, DHF’s all female maker club, began plans for a collaborative community project. The basic framework of their plan was to involve the community in an ongoing project. At first, this simply involved creating an outdoor exhibition, but the Makerettes decided that they wanted to provide a more personal benefit. They decided that they wanted to create a fundraiser for another organization providing value to marginalized people in Baltimore. The initiative set forth by the Makerettes was to design and fabricate intricate tea light lanterns that could be displayed in the courtyard and sold online. All of the proceeds would be donated to the House of Ruth, a domestic violence shelter for women and children in Maryland.

be the light

“Especially during the holiday season, the Makerettes wanted to make something for people other than themselves,” said Makerette, Sydney Lane-Ryer, at the Be the Light launch event on Wednesday, December 13th.

The House of Ruth was the Makerettes’ chosen charitable organization because of the work it does for women in the Baltimore region. As a female-founded and operated club, the Makerettes wanted to show solidarity with another female-focused organization.


“The idea behind the Makerettes is that there aren’t enough women in tech,” said Sydney, “At DHF, we are 50% female, which is a higher statistic than is seen at many other tech corporations and businesses around the nation. The Makerettes increases retention of girls in DHF’s programs.”



Volunteers from the House of Ruth also attended the Be the Light event where they raised awareness about domestic violence and the work being done by the House of Ruth.

Nearly fifty lanterns were sold at the Be the Light launch event, which raised more than $500 for the House of Ruth. The lanterns that were donated to DHF will be displayed in the courtyard as part of the Be The Light Installation on display at our 5th Anniversary Showcase on January 18th. Lanterns will be on sale at that event, but you can also purchase lanterns now by visiting:

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 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.

Customize Your Makey Makey

If you are anything like me, you love your Makey Makey. I am just constantly finding new things to do with them and exploring what new conductive element I can use as a trigger. The youth at DHF are also super creative when it comes to Makey Makey’s.

One of our youth, Sierra, came up with the idea to turn an abandoned piano that was left in our space when we moved in into a digital jukebox, a modern take on the classic diner staple. Her idea was to use the piano keys as mechanical switches that would activate the Makey Makey and send the song selection to a raspberry pi running the jukebox interface. One obstacle she ran into was that the Makey Makey only transmits arrow keys, space bar, and W,A,S,D,F,G by default.

Because the Makey Makey source code is open source, we can modify our Makey Makey to generate any key strokes we need (Hooray for open source!). In our case, we needed the Makey Makey to generate the numbers 0-9.

One of my favorite tools for programming Arduino compatible devices (like the Makey Makey) is It’s a Google Chrome extension that runs in your browser so there is very little software you need to install on the local computer. Just the extension and some drivers.

Head over to Adafruit’s blog to learn more about Codebender and once you’ve signed up for a free account, just clone my code for the Makey Makey:

You can change your mappings by editing the settings.h file. Note: You can only assign one key press to each input of the Makey Makey. This means you couldn’t do something fancy like “CTRL+P” 🙁

While you are at it, put some pants on your Makey Makey.

And one more thing, Codebender now works on Google Chromebooks!