Baltimore Youth Participate in Inaugural Youth Hackathon at DHF

In February, DHF youth member, Bella, approached our Youth Steering Committee with an idea to have a Youth Hackathon. The hackathon would be organized and hosted by the Youth Steering Committee and open to youth in the Baltimore area ages 12 to 18. The idea of the hackathon would be to create a space for youth the experience the environment of a hackathon alongside their peers.

Over the next seven months, the Youth Steering Committee split into groups to organize the hackathon – Harbor Hacks – a task that involved securing sponsors, creating a budget and ordering prizes, and recruitment of hackers, coaches, and judges.

Members of the Youth Steering Committee who organized Harbor Hacks

All their planning came together the weekend of August 11th. Forty youth split into ten groups to begin work on a variety of hardware and software projects. We were excited to have a large representation of female participants (46%!!) and youth new to DHF (36%). Aside from their project work throughout the weekend, the youth also participated in soldering workshops with the SparkFun Weevil Eye Kits and programming workshops with Micro:bits, both items that each youth received as part of their swag bags.

Jonathan shows youth how to use to the Micro:bit

The criteria for judging included difficulty and challenge, communication, functionality, presentation, and innovation in two categories: hardware and software. We had a talented group of judges including Ellie Mitchell (Maryland Out of School Time Network), Marty McGuire (web developer & Baltimore Maker), Jason Hardebeck (The Foundery), and Vakul More (Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Information Technology). Their job was definitely not an easy one!

Judges checking out Immanuel & Roman’s Battle Bot

All of the projects were great, but ultimately, the judges selected the winners: the winners of the HARDWARE prize were Jean Carlos Zayas and Kaire Williams for their creation of a BB8 robot and the winners of the SOFTWARE prize were Maya Gaylord, Miranda Hull, Carrie Couch, and Liza Molotska for their interactive scratch game, Samventures. The judges expressed being most impressed with the winners’ clear vision and intention to continue the efforts of their teams beyond the hackathon.

The youth in attendance at the hackathon also selected a HACKERS CHOICE winner – Dorian Smith and Ian Smith were selected for their creation of a website through which food suppliers and producers could donate surplus food items to people and organizations in need.


Although the youth produced creative and innovative projects, many participants surveyed at the end of the hackathon said that their favorite part of the weekend was meeting new people and working together as a team. When asked what youth would tell their peers about Harbor Hacks, one participant said:

“I would tell other youth that if you go [to the hackathon] you will have the best time of your life.”
To see more from the weekend, check out our Harbor Hacks 2017 Album on Flickr.

Thank you, again, to our generous sponsors for Harbor Hacks 2017!

big-huge-games-logo     smartlogic-logo

DHF Presents: Admin Make Night


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


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

Family Make Night: Screenprinting


For July’s Family Make Night, families had the opportunity to decorate their own t-shirts by learning how to screenprint! This is the first time we’ve done this for a Family Make Night, and the first time that I have led a Family Make Night event.

Each family was able to design their own t-shirt with pre-cut vinyl stencils that we had prepared ahead of time. They applied the stencils onto screenprinting frames and then squeegeed ink which transferred their design onto the shirt.  


In preparation, we cut over 250 vinyl stickers and made 10 frames which took weeks of work, but it all paid off in the end when we were able to see the excitement of the families while they were making!


If you missed out on this Family Make Night, instructions and a tutorial that you can follow along to can be found hereYou can also see more photos from the event by visiting our Flickr page.

About Family Make Night:

Family Make Night is our monthly family-focused workshop. These workshops are designed for families up to 6 people (including at least one adult) to work together on a project. There are sample projects to work from and all materials needed to complete the project are provided. Each month is a different theme and project. Learn More about Family Make Night

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.

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.
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

If you want more information on how to combine technology and community, email or sign up for our newsletter at

DoodleFab at Northumberland Christian School


As an educator, I am always excited about the potential of crossing over subject material. 3D Printing has become the universal connector for me. How can I connect 3D printing with science? Math? Geography?

Lately my students have been enjoying turning their art into 3D objects. Thanks to DHF’s (Shawn’s) creation of DoodleFab, we are taking our 2D doodles, drawings, and sketches into the 3D environment. Two of my senior students love art (the art room their second home). When they approached me about turning their classroom doodles into 3D objects, I jumped at the opportunity.

Kyli had sketched a fox running through the forest on an index card with her pencil during class. (I am pretty sure she was still paying attention).


Then, her best friend Gabby wanted to do the same. She also used an index card to create a drawing of a deer skull adorned with a flower-like pattern. Gabby then created an a 3D replica of her drawing with Doodlefab.

IMG_3293        deer

Both girls are using their objects on their quilt blocks for our 3D printed school quilt project. An update on our school quilt project will be coming in the near future.

(Awesome Doodlefab idea…3D Print famous art pieces for the visually impaired. Feeling Van Gogh’s Starry Night?)


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…

Jacob Goes to the White House


Yesterday was a big, exciting day for all of us at DHF. One of our very own Mini Makers, Jacob Leggette, represented DHF at the 6th and final White House Science Fair of President Obama’s administration. This is the second year in a row that we have had one of our youth invited to participate in the WH Science Fair. Last year, you may recall that Sierra Seabrease presented her Digital Jukebox at the same event.
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We all gathered around the projectors at the Tech Center yesterday afternoon and anxiously watched the live-stream for some footage of our young maker at the White House. We were all surprised and ecstatic to finally catch a glimpse of him…blowing bubbles with the President himself!

Jacob eagerly shared his story about learning to 3D print in our summer Maker Camp last year, and how he enjoyed 3D printing so much he wrote to companies like Printrbot to ask for a 3D printer of his own in exchange for feedback about how kid-friendly their product was.

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His table was full of products he designed as part of his explorations of manufacturing processes such as 3D printing, laser cutting, sewing, and mold making. He even created specific products to share at this event like his 3D printed White House, as an example of additive manufacturing, and his Liberty Bell 3D printed mold.

Before ending his conversation with President Obama, Jacob asked him if he has any “child science advisors”, to which the President responded that he did not. Jacob quickly recommended that “You should” and insisted this was a good idea!

We are all so very proud of Jacob and what a wonderful job he did representing himself, DHF and Baltimore at this year’s White House Science Fair.

See more coverage of Jacob’s presentation at yesterday’s event:


President Obama testing Jacob's custom 3D Printed bubble wands, via White House Instagram
President Obama testing Jacob’s custom 3D Printed bubble wands, via White House Instagram


Photo via Telegraph World

 via White House Facebook (Jacob appears at 31:20)

“West Baltimore boy, 9, wows Obama at White House science fair” via Baltimore Sun

“This 9-year-old wants to be the first White House child science adviser” via Washington Post

“9 year old points out why he’s attracted the White House’s attention” via WBALTV

“Students show off inventions at White House Science Fair” via CBS News

“President Obama hosts final White House Science Fair” via ABC News

“Brainy, budding young scientists attend White House Science Fair” via NBC News

“Obama blows bubbles with Digital Harbor Foundation student” via Technically Baltimore

via USA Today

DHF Springing Up Around Town


March has passed, which means we welcome a new month and new adventures for the DHF team.

Digital Harbor Foundation will be busy either hosting, running, coordinating, making, or participating in multiple events throughout the Baltimore area. These are places we will have a presence out and about around town in the coming weeks! We hope to see you out there!

*Please keep in mind not all events are free or open to the public.

newheader_sciencefair_2015 White House Science Fair

We are honored and excited to have one of our elementary makers representing DHF at this year’s White House Science Fair, the 6th and final of President Obama’s administration! You can watch a live-stream of the event on April 13th and we will be sharing highlights throughout the day on our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. You may also want to read-up on last year’s DHF youth who participated in White House Science Fair, Sierra Seabrease.


2016 Summer Resource Fair Summer Resource Fair

Looking for Summer Camps but not sure where to start?! Join us on April 14th at 10am for the Summer Resource Fair (sponsored by Family League and B’More, Read More). Melissa will be hosting a table to share information about our upcoming Maker Camps. This will be a great opportunity to connect with summer providers throughout Baltimore City.  Location: Maryland Book Bank ( 501 N. Calvert Street )


USA Science & Engineering Festival

USA Science & Engineering Festival

We are thrilled to have Adam, our Senior Tech Specialist, represent DHF at this year’s USA Science & Engineering Festival. If you have the opportunity to attend this special event make sure to stop by the Raspberry Pi booth to visit Adam.  More Information:


Windsor Mill STEM Night

Melissa and Jonathan will be traveling to Windsor Mill Middle School to host a fun STEM project to students and parents. This event is only for the Windsor Mill Middle School community but if any schools want DHF to host a STEM project email us.


 Abilities HackathonAbilities Hackathon

Mark your calendars! On April 22-24 the first Baltimore Abilities Hackathon will be hosted at the Tech Center. This is a collaborative effort to engage the tech community in human-centered design practices for individuals with needs related to their impacted abilities. We are looking for talented developers, makers, programmers, and designers to join us. Tickets are $20 which includes T-Shirt and Food for the whole weekend. More Information:


11228129_923332231036917_659631216502168028_oCommon Ground 2016

DHF will be hitting the road to head to Ocean City for the 4th Annual Common Ground Conference, “Maryland’s top professional development of the year”. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear thought-provoking speakers, experience hundreds of inspiring sessions, and there will be demonstrations of the latest products. If you are attending make sure to say “Hi” to Melissa and Josh in the Exhibitor’s Hall. More Information:



On April 30th both DHF Youth and Staff members will have the opportunity to host a booth at this year’s RobotFest. “This event will welcome all roboticists, hackers, artists, hobbyists and makers of any age who have the unquenchable urge to develop and create new, previously unseen forms from lifeless electronics, fabrics, and mechanical parts. Join the fun and excitement with hands-on exhibits, and workshops!”  More Information:



Family Make Night Returns

After a bit of a delayed start in 2016, we are very excited to kickoff our Family Make Night program in April!

Join us on April 26th to explore art-making robots with our Art Bots project. This is a great project for family members of all ages and one of our favorites at DHF.

RSVP here


Each family will get to make their own Art Bot using simple electronic components and household items. Your Art Bot will then be used to create it’s own unique drawings!

Doors Open: 6:30pm; Arrive by 7:30pm to complete the activity.

PLEASE NOTE: We request that you do not plan to arrive before 6:30pm at the earliest as our afterschool programs do not wrap up until then. Thank you!

For more details and to RSVP, check out our Meetup page – Family Make Night: Art Bots.

Bring Your Class on a DHF Field Trip



Have you heard? DHF is now operating in the early morning hours too! Our 3D Printing Field Trips are off to a great start. So far this season, we have welcomed in groups of upper elementary students and a few middle school groups. The youth have all been awesome and have had so much fun!

During field trips, youth are introduced to a 3D design program and guided through how to use that program to create their own designs for printing. They use this tool to design their very own personalized keychains that they can take home with them.

Youth also learn about how 3D printers work and how they are being used in various industries such as fashion, architecture, and the medical field. This presentation is rich with information and real world examples to increase knowledge and interest in 3D printing for field trip participants.

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Field trips are a two-hour experience intended for groups no larger than 25. We prefer the youth to be fourth grade and above, but are open to exploring options for younger children. The youth should be comfortable using a computer and able to work somewhat independently.

Thanks to generous donors, we are able to offer a limited number of field trip opportunities free of charge to Baltimore-area public schools. If you are a Baltimore-area public educator interested in scheduling a field trip, act now because spots fill up quickly!

Don’t delay – schedule your field trip today!



3D Printing at Northumberland Christian School

“3D printing is great fun. Even though everyone has heard about 3D printing before, it does not prepare you for the feeling of accomplishment you feel when it creates the object in real life that you created virtually. It has taught me a lot about simple modeling and about how real products are made.” – Luke D. 11th


When we found out we were selected as a Perpetual Innovation Fund recipient with the Digital Harbor Foundation initiative we were blown away. Opportunities like this don’t usually reach small Christian schools. The surrounding community is small and the overall industry in our area doesn’t scream out innovation. The great thing for us, Digital Harbor looked past the barriers and the stigmas, and gave us a chance. To be honest, it has changed the face of creativity in so many students.

To begin the school year, we began offering 3d design and print classes to 10th-12th grade students. Being we had just one Printrbot Simple, we had to keep the classes small. With a group of 4-5 students working on laptops in our science lab/3d printing space, the idea started to come to life. Our students quickly took to the simple lessons of Tinkercad and within two weeks, we were ready for our first challenge. The first challenge was a kitchen challenge. Students were asked to create something that could be used in the kitchen. This would also be our first fundraiser towards the PI Fund. The way we set it up, students could vote on their favorite design by donating their spare change. The contest was also set up so that the winning design would get a portion of the funds. The winning design was created by Juliette K (a new student this year). She created a double-decker dish, which serves the purpose of holding your cherries or seeds, and has a bowl underneath for your pits or shells.




“My school’s 3D printer gives an amazing venue for student creativity. It’s really cool to use a program that turns my ideas into high-definition reality. From designing cookie cutters to making accessories to inventing classroom tools, 3D printing is one of my favorite activities at school.” -Juliette K. 10th


Our next idea was to involve the community. We have a great community here at NCS. Many parents are alumni, and the tight knit community really gives way to some cool opportunities. We decided to do our first family make night to introduce everyone to 3d printing, but also add in the cookie cutter concept. With some student helpers, we ran two computers lab and had a huge turn-out. We had over 50 parents and kids, ranging from kindergarten through high school. The feedback we got was tremendous. Parents and students were amazed at what they could create in such a short time. We spent the next two weeks blasting out about thirty-five cookie cutters in time for Thanksgiving break.



Following the success of the Family Make Night, we did a student contest with cookie cutters. Any student in the school could submit a cookie cutter design for the contest. From the submitted designs, a few were selected as winners. The winning designs were then offered to the entire school community as potential Christmas gifts. The money generated from the sales went into the PI Fund and the winning designs also got a portion of the money raised. The amount of orders were got was overwhelming. We started printing round the clock and even had to use some extra printers at a local youth center. We raised over $300 dollars and were able to give away $50 to the student designers.




“3d printing at NCS is a great outlet for me to express creativity. It’s a good environment to just relax, have fun, and learn at the same time.” – Hugh H. 12th



Currently we have added a second printer here at the school. Because of the success of using our Printrbot Simple, the school agreed to buy a Printrbot Plus. We now have two printers running, and have started using the new printer to design needed items for the school. We have just begun a lettering project involving ProtoPasta’s Carbon Fiber filament. The new printer has also allowed the class size to be increased, and will open the doors for more students next school year.

We are also in the middle of a design challenge involving the use of pencils… More to come from us soon!


Ian Snyder is a science teacher and 3D printing coach at Northumberland Christian School. He also runs a makerspace at The Refuge. You can follow him on Twitter @ateachr or catch some shots on Instagram at mriansnyder.