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!

Aeroponics Study Comes to Life

During my Youth Works employment at the Digital Harbor Foundation, I created an Arduino Hydroponics System.

I first began by researching hydroponics. Hydroponics is a method of growing plants without using soil. There are many different forms of Hydroponics. They range in size and complexity. Here are a few different styles:

Image result for different indoor hydroponics

I choose to do the Aeroponic variation of Hydroponics. Within this sector, I picked the five-gallon bucket configuration. It requires the least amount of space, money, time, and upkeep. It looks like this:

Essentially the bucket is filled with water and the pump sprays the roots of the plants with nutrient enriched water. After conducting some research I found a website with steps on how to build this project. To access this website click this link: https://gardenpool.org/online-classes/how-to-make-a-simple-5-gallon-bucket-aeroponics-system

The next step was to create a project proposal and action plan. My action plan included the materials, their costs, and step by step construction of the buckets. Next, I began to assemble the buckets. I used the hole saw and a power drill to put holes in the top of the bucket. I could not find the guide for the hole saw, which complicated the process of drilling holes. The incorrect guide kept falling out. I thoroughly rinsed and sterilized the buckets to remove any debris. I cut the bottom out of the net pots with an Exact-o knife so that the roots could hang. I rinsed the hydrotons, which are clay pebbles used as a soil alternative, to remove all of the residues. The pump was placed in the bottom of the bucket and the cord was fed through the hole in the top. I filled the bucket up with water and added the nutrient solution into the water. Then I placed the net pots filled with hydrotons into the holes in the bucket. I plugged the pump into a timer so that it would turn on at certain intervals. When assembling the bucket, make sure to rinse all plastic shavings, dirt, and residue from the bucket to keep the water clean.

The buckets needed to be placed somewhere with space to hang the grow lights at varying heights. The area should have enough space so that the buckets are out of the way. At the tech center, I chose to locate the buckets in the kitchen. There wasn’t a place to hang the lights so I created one. My supervisor helped me use the circular saw to cut some wood. Then we placed wood blocks up and down two vertical planks with space to slide horizontal planks in between them.

To control the lights I created an Arduino switch. Shawn showed me how to use a simple blink program that turns the light on and off every twelve hours. I planted tomatoes, rosemary, peppers, curry, basil, and thyme. This is the final result:

 

After two weeks:

To take care of the plants you only have to check the pump and add nutrients every two weeks. Just make sure the roots do not grow into the pump and water is reaching them.  After I my session at Youth Works ended my plants died. The nutrients I was putting in the water were not concentrated enough to maintain mature plants. I had to completely scrap the buckets. In February of this year, we planted some strawberries in the bucket. we made some changes to the feeding schedule and the nutrients being placed in the buckets  The strawberries are doing well and we even ate some of them.

 

Meet Our Summer 2016 YouthWorks Employees

Each year DHF employs youth who are members in our space through Baltimore City’s YouthWorks program. This year we are excited to have the most YouthWorkers that we have ever hired and are thrilled about the projects that they’ve been working on.

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blog_YW_01Immanuel is a 15 year old who has been involved in DHF programs for 2 years now. He chose to work at DHF this summer because it is a familiar place and he knew that he would get the chance to learn new technology. His position this summer is a Maker Assistant and he is working on projects such as laser-cutting tiles and creating a hydroponic gardening system. Immanuel chose to work in this position because he felt like he fit best into this role and knew the most about it.
blog_YW_02Ben has been coming to DHF for 3 years and he is 15 years old. He applied to work here this summer because he loves working with technology and solving problems. His position this summer is a Web Specialist and he is working on the dashboard website. Ben chose to be a Web Specialist because it seemed like the hardest position and he wanted a challenge, plus he enjoys programming.

 

blog_YW_03Aidan is 15 years old and has been at DHF for 3 years. He chose to work here because he feels comfortable here and already knows his way around. Aidan is working alongside 3D Assistance as an Assistant and chose to work in this position because he completed the internship and previously learned everything about it.

 

blog_YW_04Claire has been with DHF since last fall and she is 16 years old. She wanted to work with us this summer because she wants to eventually work in a tech related field, and knows that this will help her work towards that goal. She is working as a Maker Assistant and Program Planner. While in these roles, Claire is assisting in laser-cutting projects and helping to plan projects for The Makerettes group.

 

blog_YW_05Ian is 16 years old and has been coming to DHF for a little over a year. He wanted to work here because he loves DHF and has the opportunity to work on many different things. Ian’s position this summer is a Product Tester which means that he is testing products in order to write reviews and how-to guides. He chose this position because he enjoys reviewing things and felt like it would be perfect for him.

 

blog_YW_06Larson has been a part of DHF programs for 3 years and is 15 years old. He wanted a job this summer that would give him a good opportunity, but would also be a familiar place, and he felt like DHF was perfect for that. He is working as a Program Assistant in the Nano Lab and is helping to teach the first two Maker Camps of the summer. Larson wanted to work in this role because he enjoys working with kids and knew that it would be fun.

 

blog_YW_07Amiri has been involved with DHF for 3 years and is 18 years old. He wanted to spend his summer working at DHF because it is a fun place to be and has a friendly environment. This summer he is working as an Assistant for 3D Assistance as well as working on a compost project. He chose these roles because he has experience working with 3DA and he wants to help to better the environment.

 

blog_YW_08Jalen is 16 years old and has been coming to DHF for a little over a year. He worked here last summer and had a great experience, so he chose to do it again this summer. Jalen is working as a Product Tester which has him testing gadgets to write a review and see if they would be useful to have in our tech center. He wanted to work in this role because it is something different that he doesn’t have experience with and it allows him to use new technology.

 

blog_YW_10Thomas has been coming to the tech center for 2 years and is 15 years old. He wanted to work here this summer because he is a member here and wanted something to do throughout the summer months. He is working with 3D Assistance and is helping to fix 3D printers and manage prints. Thomas chose to work in this area because he enjoyed his internship with 3DA this spring and wanted it to continue into the summer.

 

blog_YW_11Nick is 15 years old and has been involved in DHF programs for about 3 years. He chose to work here this summer because it is a community that he is comfortable with and it provides him with the opportunity to work in an area that he is interested in. Nick is working with 3D Assistance and is helping to perform maintenance and repair, as well as construction, on 3D printers for the tech center. He chose to work with 3DA because he had an internship with them this spring and was presented the opportunity to continue his work with them this summer.

Youth builds new DHF website

Digital Harbor Foundation is very excited to announce that we have launched a new website! On Friday, June 16th our newly designed website went live to the public. We are very happy with how it turned out and excited to share it with the world! This relaunch was taken on as a project by one of our own youth, 17-year-old Sierra Seabrease. Despite her struggles, Sierra can’t help but to be extremely proud of herself and the work that she’s done for us.

“I loved every second of this because it was all a learning experience. My favorite moment was when I looked back and saw the finished site. I was extremely proud when I realized that I had made that”, Sierra shared.

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The website highlights all of the programs that we offer for youth, as well as educators. It also showcases many of the projects we have at DHF, such as 3D Assistance, Pay What You Can, FabSLAM, Family Make Night, and our most recent endeavor, the Innovation Access Program. There are also links to our blog and our calendar of upcoming events so that you can keep up with all things new at DHF.

We feel as though this new website gives more insight into what life is like here at DHF and can help others in the community to get to know us better. We are extremely excited about this, and we hope that you are too! You can check it out for yourself here.