Another Successful Summer in the Books

It’s hard to believe that we are reaching the conclusion of another busy summer at DHF. This summer we had 3 cycles of Maker Camp for Mid-High students and Elementary students and 3 cycles of Member camps. These camps ran concurrently with our YouthWorks program and many of the youth involved in YouthWorks helped facilitate programming for the camps. The summer concluded with DHF’s inaugural youth hackathon, Harbor Hacks.

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This summer we unveiled two new programming courses: Programming Minecraft with Python and Creative Programming with JavaScript. Programming Minecraft offered youth a chance to hack the Minecraft environment using code and Creative Programming facilitated youth creation of an online Javascript sketchbook using the p5 web editor. Both programming languages are highly desirable in the workplace and require great attention to detail. Nevertheless, our staff were very impressed by the coding projects the youth in these courses were able to craft. Intro to 3D Printing, Arduino, and VectorFab courses were also offered to Mid-High youth. Youth created puppets and marionettes as their capstone projects for the Intro to 3D Printing course, servo greeters in the Arduino course, and mazes in the VectorFab course. Our Mini Makers explored simple machines by creating automatas and learned about gravity, the rotation of the earth, and friction while building their own paint pendulums.

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This summer’s YouthWorks cohort was the largest DHF has seen with 20 youth working as Project Planners, Space Specialists, Cultivation Specialists, Program Assistants in the MegaLab and NanoLab, 3D Assistants, and Documentation Assistants. Their marks can be seen around the space through projects such as the lasercut Bike Parking and Office signs, the pea planter in the courtyard, and the self-watering planters growing squash in the space beside DHF. Program Assistants also helped staff come up with projects for courses such as a JavaScript programmed loading screen and a Python programmed timer displayed on the Minecraft playing screen that counts up to 5 minutes. Said one youth employee, “my favorite part about being at DHF this summer was being able to work with the people around me.”

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We wrapped up the summer with the Harbor Hacks youth hackathon proposed by DHF member, Bella Palumbi. The hackathon was attended by 40 youth, 14 of which were non-regular program participants. The event was a perfect cap to the summer with the productivity of the past three months channeled into 3 days of innovative brainstorming, hacking, and presentation.

Maker Camp Recap: Circuit Circus

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The MiniMakers have been busy this summer making and creating!  We just finished our Circuit Circus Maker Camp and had a blast learning all about Circuits.  We started off camp by creating closed circuits to light up our bugs for our Flee Circus.

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Once we became familiar with closed circuits we added switches and buttons, creating open and closed circuits to our creations.

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You can’t talk about motors without creating Electromagnets for your Acrobats to swing from!

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Continuing into DC Motors we created Wiggling Animals to perform in our Circus.  Turning up all kinds of animals only seen in the NanoLab Circus!

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MiniMakers can’t get enough of Motors, especially when we combine them with paint!  We put our skills to the test to create Spin Art Boxes, creating a circuit that can be turned on and off, has multiple wires to connect, and not to mention all the cardboard and hot glue to make the box itself.

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We had the misfortune of extreme heat and no AC in the Tech Center causing us to miss out on two days of camp, but we were lucky enough to still sneak in circuit boards using a Makey Makey.  We decided to create games based on the rule, “Don’t Complete the Circuit.”  Think of the game Operation, where you are trying to get the object out without causing the nose to light up.  Same concept with our games.  We had Mazes, we had throwing games, fishing games, quiz games, and more!

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The best part was being able to show off our Games the last day of camp with our Family and Friends!

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We had so much fun during our Circuit Circus Camp we can’t wait to see what else the MiniMakers will create in the months to come!

Designing Games in Maker Camp

We wrapped up our Mini Maker Maker Camps with Game Design!  Like all the camps preceding, this camp did not disappoint.  Our Mini Makers are so knowledgable when it comes to what makes a game fun we found that they were teaching us new skills daily and it was a blast!

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During this camp we focused on the fundamentals of game design.  Why do we enjoy playing games?  What makes a game fun?  How do we find the balance between challenging enough and too hard it’s no longer fun to play?  We spent 2 weeks finding answers to those questions.

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To start off the camp we focused on playground games, hand games, and boardgames.  We worked to really solidify the structure of games; the objective, setup, and rules.  The Mini Makers worked hard to develop and create many games, but focused on one board game in particular.

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They started off using whiteboards and graph paper to begin the board design and documenting their objective for the game as well as setup and rules. (We really enjoyed using our MC Squares whiteboards for this project because they are so easy to use and easily contained, and everyone can have their own!)

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Once they did multiple test runs of their games they started working endlessly on their final game design.  They all continued doing test runs throughout the remainder of camp.

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It would be an understatement to say the Mini Makers were excited to begin video game design, for majority of them this was the reason they signed up for Game Design Maker Camp.

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For many Mini Makers, programming a video game is a brand new skill set.  We used a free web-based software, Scratch, to create our video games.  For young makers this is an excellent entry level to coding and script writing.  This program challenged them to really read through their script in order to understand what they were programing their Sprite (character) to do.

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Our objective for this camp was to have each Mini Maker create and develop three distinct computer games: a collision/dodging game such as “Frogger,” or “Crossy Road,” a racing game or beat the clock where their sprite needed to make it to the finish line by a certain time, and a combination game where they put all their skills together to create a game that had obstacles to dodge or collect, a set time, score, or lives, and multiple levels.  With each game they were given a outline to how the game could be set up, but this was a time when they could really build their game geared toward their own skill levels.

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As we spent over a week working on our computer games we found our Mini Makers showing us easier codes that they found useful to use instead of ones we may have originally shown them.  As instructors we found ourselves learning right along with the campers making each day new and exciting for all!

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By the end of camp both board and computer games were done and ready to show off!  Our end-of-camp Celebrations are always a blast and give our Mini Makers a chance to show off their skills, their final projects, and really teach their parents and family the knowledge they’ve gained.

Overall, this was a very successful Maker Camp session and a fantastic way to cap off a very full and exciting summer of learning, discovery, and making!

Elementary Film Making at Maker Camp

Our first Film Making Maker Camp was such a success we added another session at the end of July!  This particular group of Mini Makers once again proved to us that it doesn’t matter your age if given a challenge and the means to succeed anyone can create!

We followed the same structure as our first Film Making Maker Camp session; storyboarding, script writing, prop making, filming, and editing were all parts of this camp.  Between their Movie Trailers and Stop Motion videos every Mini Maker found something they excelled in when it comes to film making.

I hope you enjoy their videos as much as we enjoyed making and editing them!

Movie Trailers – iMovie Editing  

Stop Motion – iStop Motion

Fun With The iPad – iMovie App Editing

Exploring 2D Design to 3D Printing at Maker Camp

2D Design to 3D Printing Camp is always a favorite.  For the majority of the Mini Makers it will be their first time 3D printing!

In the Mini Makers program we are continually mixing tech skills with hands on activities to help develop a strong understanding so when working on the computer they have some physical example to fall back on.

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We started camp off learning exactly what 1D, 2D, and 3D is.  We investigated how to find those simple 2D shapes in the world around us to help design our 3D forms, whether we printed them or built them by hand.

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As you step into the world of 3D printing it is beneficial to know what exactly the 3D printer is doing.  3D printing is an additive process, adding material layer by layer to create a 3D form. The opposite is subtractive manufacturing, better known to many as carving.  Our Wikki Stix and Soap carving projects really get the Mini Makers excited to create.  We probably spent the remainder of the camp sessions finding bugs all around the room hanging from all over.

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2D design is key when helping young and even old Makers create.  To be able to take a simple 2D drawing and create a 3D object takes skill so we find Legos to be a great building tool.  Our Mini Makers build from blueprints to help understand the importance of making instructions clear so that others can build your design.

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As they created their own blueprints many found it helpful to add more angles of their object, step by step instructions, and even what bricks they used layer by layer in order for their neighbor to recreate their design.  This project shows the importance of really thinking through a design.

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Sticking with our objective of 2D design to 3D printing our MiniMakers began designing bubble-wands.  By now they see how helpful it is to have multiple designs, to work out as many bugs as possible before beginning manufacturing.  We use a free web based program called DoodleFab to take our 2D drawings of our bubble-wands to create an SVG file that we can than convert to a STL file to download and 3D print!

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With any project we tackle we focus on design, manufacturing, testing, and improving what we create.  Everything we 3D printed we tested.  We made bubble wands using DoodleFab, cookie cutters using Cookie Caster (free web based program), and bowls using Tinkercad.

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Here in the NanoLab the Mini Makers use Tinkercad as our go to 3D printing program.  We love that it’s free and user friendly.  Our Mini Makers are able to continue their 3D design skills at home they learned during their short 2 week camp session.  By the end of camp every Mini Maker felt comfortable enough to show off their skills they developed when it comes to 2D to 3D printing.  Not only surprising their parents and family with their knowledge but our staff here at DHF were blown away with their skills.

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Maker Camp Session 1: Film Making

Our MiniMakers kicked the summer off with film making, the first session of Maker Camp. In this camp, the students created movie trailers in groups and finished off with stop motion films.

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Our MiniMakers learned the process of how films are made in the professional world. They learned photography and film terms, made storyboards to plan their films, wrote scripts, made props, filmed, and edited their projects.

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For filming the movie trailers, the students shot their footage in front of a greenscreen and picked backgrounds to replace the green with. On iMovie, they also added transitions between scenes, titles, and audio.

The second week of the camp session, the students began by making flip books to understand how stop motion works, and finished the week off by filming their own short stop motions with the iPad app iStopMotion and using stations that held their environments and iPads.
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Film Camp ended with a showcase of the students’ films on July 2nd.