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!


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.


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.


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!)


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.

Shape Hunt (2)

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.

2.5 sub

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.

2.5 Add

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.


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.

Blueprints (1)

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!


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.

2.5 bubble Wands

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.

2.5 2d 3d

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.



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.



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.



Film Camp ended with a showcase of the students’ films on July 2nd.




Maker Foundations Spring 2015

The Spring 2015 cohort of Maker Foundations is now in full-swing!

This newest group of 54 youth have persevered through the winter weather disruption and have begun to create amazing things! The Mega Lab is continually buzzing with excitement as the Maker Foundations youth are eagerly learning new technology skills.

As an introductory Maker activity, the group was tasked with creating “a robot that draws.” No additional information was provided other than the limitation of one electric toothbrush and the option to use only up to four markers. Programming staff decided to not show any pictures of previously completed Artbots because we wanted to see what the youth would create. The incredible creativity of the youth was demonstrated through the range and variety of design. Everyone enjoyed putting their creations to the test, and the cohort began to share their ideas and designs with each other.


The youth also were eager to learn about Internet credibility through participation in a fact-finding activity called “Release the Kraken” where they evaluated the reliability of online sources to determine whether or not the Kraken is real, imaginary, or somewhere in the middle. This activity spurred a great group discussion about online credibility where the youth had to defend their claims based on their sources.

Makers at Work

This cohort is particularly interested in sharing their ideas and processes. At the start of Maker Foundations, we ask each youth to write their thoughts about what they think being a Maker is, and then put their post-its on our decorated Maker whiteboard. Everyone was excited to write down their answers, and many of the youth included their names so that their peers could see their responses.

Makers Working 2

At this point, the youth have been working through the Graphic Design and Game Development modules, using their mini-projects for the Graphic Design lesson as assets for use in Game Development. This integration of content is exciting to witness, as the youth are already working toward a larger goal by creating characters, logos, and backgrounds for their games.

The youth are beginning the 3D Printing lesson in the next week and there is already lots of buzz and discussion about what they’ll create! This is always a popular module with the new youth, and this cohort is demonstrating the same eager anticipation.

We’re all looking forward to seeing what the Spring 2015 Maker Foundations youth will create in the upcoming months!

DHF Youth Sierra Seabrease Is Presenting at White House Science Fair!

We are excited to announce that the White House has invited DHF youth Sierra Seabrease, a 15 year old Baltimore City youth, to present at the 2015 White House Science Fair today! We are so proud of her accomplishment.

At the Science Fair, Sierra is exhibiting a digital piano jukebox that she designed at Digital Harbor Foundation. Sierra turned an abandoned piano that was left over when the South Baltimore Rec Center closed into the  jukebox. It uses electronic components that connect the piano keys to an digital interface that displays a playlist from Spotify.


This year’s Science Fair has a specific focus on girls and women who excel in STEM. Sierra could not be a better fit! In addition to working on technology projects at DHF, Sierra is the founder of the Digital Harbor Foundation Makerettes club, a user group for female students at the Tech Center.

This is the second time that a Digital Harbor Foundation youth has been invited to showcase their work at the White House. In June 2014, DHF youth Darius McCoy presented 3D Printers he built at the White House Maker Faire.