DHF Youth Organize A Youth Hackathon

We are excited to announce that this year our youth are bringing a hackathon like no other to Digital Harbor Foundation. This hackathon, officially titled Harbor Hacks, is a hackathon organized by youth for youth. For more information and to register visit: http://harborhacks.org

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Harbor Hacks, the Back Story

After participating in several local hackathons, one DHF youth, Bella, noticed that something was missing from these events. Where were all the young makers?

Bella thought that many youth may not be participating in community hackathons because they might not know what to expect at a hackathon. She remembered back to her first hackathon and how her Mom had to keep encouraging her to attend because she was so nervous, she even wanted to back out briefly during the walk to the space. Now, Bella participates in numerous hackathons (and has won a few!) all over Baltimore and came up with an idea to create a hackathon just for youth. This would give young people new to the idea or concept of a hackathon a safe place to experience a hackathon that was designed just for them.

In February, Bella presented her idea for a Youth Hackathon to the Youth Steering Committee at DHF. Our youth split into different committees for the event and went to work planning. Their hard work will be a reality next weekend August 11th – 13th at DHF when the inaugural Harbor Hacks Youth Hackathon takes place.

Register Now for Harbor Hacks 2017
 

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Who Can Participate?

Any youth between the ages of 12 – 18 who like to solve problems, create new inventions, or dream big! Hurry, registration ends August 7th.

We are also looking for a few adult tech coaches to help teams out throughout the weekend, so if you think you might be a good fit, get a coach ticket.

What does it cost?

Registration for students is Pay-What-You-Can and includes a weekend of fun, a t-shirt, meals and snacks all weekend, and some awesome giveaways!

Are there prizes?

Yes! Awesome tech prizes are waiting for the teams or individuals who impress the judges.

Register Now for Harbor Hacks 2017
 

We hope you will be able to join us for a fun weekend!

Vinyl Logo Design by Youth

When you are a kid, you reach this point where you think you hold the barometer of cool. I know I thought I had it all figured out. “That kid is cool because he has those shoes….” “That girl is cool because she has that kind of backpack.” One group of people I couldn’t understand as a kid were the gear-heads. They talked engines, cc’s, rpms, and other things that were foreign to me. Since I didn’t understand, I mostly thought what they talked about was dumb and useless. When I caught the maker bug, I realized the fallacy in my pattern of thought. The unknown became more intriguing, and those who were wired differently became valuable.

Here at school, I recognize that many of those same judgments still happen. The sports people are esteemed. The smart people are criticized for doing too well. And the tech squad is treated with so much ambivalence. This is a post to give those guys some credit. They are makers as much as the next…

So Skylar in 12th grade is a metal guy. No we are not talking dark, loud music. We are talking about metal fabrication. The kid loves to weld. He is most at home working in the shop, tinkering with heated metal. He loves cars, and his crew of friends have been customizing vehicles.

The story comes together for me when Skylar asks about making a vinyl decal for their group. They are called the Misfit Mulisha. As Skylar says about their name, “Misfits cause we tend to have different taste and styles then everyone else.”

So Skylar sketched up a logo for their group. It was just a simple pencil and paper drawing:

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From there, we took a picture of the drawing. Then with a jpeg of the drawing, we transferred the image into Cricut. We cleaned it up a little bit, and within moments we were popping out vinyl decals for each of the vehicles. As Skylar says, “[We are a] Group of friends that hangout and help each other work on each others trucks and cars. [We] Like going to car shows and cruising around together.”

Here are some great shots of the decals in place, and also some great shots of true makers.

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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…

Girls & Making: Meet Caitlyn

Digital Harbor Foundation is very passionate about having females in our space and involved in what we do. One of our main goals is to increase the number of female program participants and increase retention of girls in our programs. The Girls & Making Series is a way for us to share success stories and the important role that females can play in making and technology projects and careers. To see other posts from this series, click here.

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1. Why are you passionate about having female makers in our space?

I am passionate about female makers in our space because like anything, with diversity you get different view points, which means different ideas, in turn when we collaborate we can turn our ideas into better more efficient creations.

2. What is one of your favorite memories as a young female maker?
Growing up My Mom would let me cook/bake my own creations, using anything in the kitchen.  I remember trying my hardest to make cookies, thinking through the ingredients I knew went into cookies and being sure they would be the best cookies ever.  In reality after my mom baked them for me they never tasted that good, but it was my first time I really tried to problem solve and create.  Now, 20 some odd years later I can make some pretty darn good cookies.
3. How can we get more girls interested in making programs?
I’m not sure how we can get more girls interested in making programs other than getting the word out and really emphasizing “Making.” I think as humans we are programed to create.  Everyone has a need to create in some form or fashion, I’ve never met a kid that didn’t have an idea of something they would create whether digitally with a video game or computer or physically but more often what stops them from creating is either they don’t have the supplies needed or the support.  So emphasizing to both boys and especially girls that a program centered around Making will allow them to create.
4. Have you always been interested in making? What made you interested and what was the first project you worked on?
I would say I’ve always been into making but it wasn’t until about a year and a half ago that I starting incorporating tech into my making.  I honestly don’t know what my first project was but I can list off about a million projects as a kid I wish I had the supplies for.  I was the kid that when I could create a project to show my work I would.  In High School the best English teacher I had was Mr. Talley.  He would allow me to create a project for all of my book reports.  I made a paper doll for The Count of Monte Cristo where you could change his outfits to go with each of his disguises.  I also created a leather bond diary and wrote down entrees as if I were Buttercup.  I had quit a few more projects I created but I think why this class made such a profound impact was that my teacher gave me room to create.  I was the the one coming up with ways to prove I read the book, not him.
5. Why do you feel that girls shy away from making?
I would say that if they are girls like me they shy away because they feel it has to do with tech.  I would rather be creating with my hands than sitting at a computer.

Girls & Making Series: Meet Claire

Digital Harbor Foundation is very passionate about having females in our space and involved in what we do. One of our main goals is to increase the number of female program participants and increase retention of girls in our programs. The Girls & Making Series is a way for us to share success stories and the important role that females can play in making and technology projects and careers. To see other posts from this series, click here.

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“I consider myself a maker because I can take my imagination and turn it into a reality,” Claire told us. Claire has been coming to DHF since last fall when she first joined our all female cohort of Maker Foundations and she says that the past year with us has been “thrilling.”

“I would have never thought that in just a year of being a part of DHF I would be where I am today,” she shared. Since joining us, Claire has been awarded many opportunities. “In my time at DHF, I’ve become the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Information Technology Hackathon prize winner, spoke in front of 600 people at the Regional Manufacturing Institute of Maryland Gala, visited the National Security Agency, met the United States Director of Education, and so much more!,” Claire shared.

Throughout her time with us, Claire has worked on many projects, however the project that she is most proud of is “Drako the Dragonfly.” He has a 3D printed body, laminated wings, and mechanics that are all laser-cut. This is a part of a series that she is working on that is made up of many different bio-mimicry robots. Claire is calling this series “NatureCoders.” Also in this series are Sy the Spider and Lulu the Lightning Bug.

Claire is very passionate about making, especially about girls and making. “I definitely think that more females should get involved! Yes, technology feels like an activity for men, but that is only because society has made it that way,” she said. Claire feels as though girls don’t see the way that they can connect technology to the other subjects that they are interested in, so her goal is to help to bridge the gap between these subjects and show girls that technology can be related to anything they want.

Although she is only 16 years old, Claire has already thought about her career path and what she might want to to. She is hoping to go into a tech related field, but isn’t exactly sure. She loves nature, animals, coding, 3D printing, and laser-cutting and wants to find a way that she can combine all of these things.

If you want to keep up with Claire and her tech journey, you can follow her blog or her Bugs and Code Facebook page.

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.

Family Make Night: Magnetic Mazes

Join us on August 16th to explore and create Mazes, using different mediums and means of prototyping. This is a great project for family members of all ages!

RSVP here

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Each family will get to make their own Maze using various materials including a magnet!  At the end of the night you will have a polished Maze to take home and continue to test and play.

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: Magnetic Mazes

Girls & Making Series: Meet Mary

Digital Harbor Foundation is very passionate about having females in our space and involved in what we do. One of our main goals is to increase the number of female program participants and increase retention of girls in our programs. The Girls & Making Series is a way for us to share success stories and the important role that females can play in making and technology projects and careers. To see other posts from this series, click here.

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1. Have you always been interested in making? 

I’ve been making stuff for almost as long as I can remember. It’s entirely possible that I came out of the womb drawing. I have been really lucky to be educated in the arts from a very young age, so I never really considered paths that weren’t creative. Since coming to Baltimore to attend school, I’ve been exposed to a plethora of ways to connect art and technology. In particular, I think to a collaborative project that involved creating installations for sensory therapy spaces. It was really exciting to take technical drawings and turn around and fabricate these ideas with others. It also taught me a lot about how following my creative impulses can lead me to connect with people in a really profound way.

2. Why are you passionate about having female makers in our space? 

I’m passionate about the work I do at DHF because it’s important to me to connect and empower those who I can share a similar creative drives and passions. I think women have unique capacities for empathy and communication, which can set up ideal conditions for making. Some of the strongest bonds in my life have been with those I’ve created with, so I want to contribute to a world where women know they have a place in this process and can rely on each other along the way.

3. What is one of your favorite memories of a young female maker?

When I first got to DHF and started working with Maker Foundations, it really struck me how amazing the girls are who come here. They are incredibly driven, articulate and eager to learn on their feet. With the all-girls cohort it was especially clear how hands-on they were compared to the boys. Whereas their male counterparts generally started their projects with virtual components (designing Scratch games, mixing sounds in Soundplant), the girls started by making physical and building interactive elements into them. For instance, Violet built a stage and a really intricate drum set and then hooked it up to a Makey Makey and sound library, allowing others to play through the character she developed because she cared about them. Many of these kinds of projects stood out to me because they were strongly rooted in narratives which encouraged interaction and engagement in a really sophisticated way. At our showcase, I was overwhelmed by joy in seeing them bring others into the stories and worlds they’d created.

4. Why do you feel that girls shy away from making?

I actually don’t think that girls shy away from making. I grew up in creative environments my whole life and I’ve always been surrounded by women there. There’s a whole history and tradition of women in arts and craft that has supported this. Within the rapidly changing landscapes of technology, however, it seems that women are less recognized. While we are certainly the minority in STEM-based learning, I don’t think this is due to lack of interest or ability. Rather, I think that young women depend on social structures and interactivity within creative spaces. On the surface, technology often does not appear this way. It may seem cold, detached and rewarding to those who works independently and in virtual capacities.

5. How can we get more girls interested in making programs?

In order to increase female participation in STEM learning, I think it’s important to dismantle this perception. First and foremost, it’s important to build up a supportive community of women in both learning and leadership roles. At DHF, we introduced an all-girls cohort of Maker Foundations, which drastically increased retention among female makers. But it’s not enough to just get more girls in the space; we’ve worked hard to find and continue to look for ways to keep them here. In part, this involved revitalizing the Makerettes (our Friday making club for girls) in an effort to encourage young women to utilize the resources in our space together beyond the context of our courses.

Young Eyes on a Young Field

This post is written by Luke Fisher, one of DHF’s Program Specialists. This was originally intended as Luke’s presentation for the Progressive Ed Summit, which was, unfortunately snowed out and rescheduled for a time when Luke will be living in Japan. We thought everyone should hear his thoughts any way. Enjoy! 

 

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No one is going to be shocked when I say this next statement: students today are used to having an endless supply of information and entertainment via their cell phones, tablets, laptops, etc. But I am not here to complain, in fact, I think it’s a really wonderful thing and I am happy to be apart of this generation. What I am here to talk about is the disconnect that I see with students when they talk about school as they are walking into the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center. Everyday I ask kids about their experiences at school and, as to be expected, the replies are generally a mix of “It was fine,” “Alright,” “Boring,” and the list of unenthused adjectives goes on and on, until I stop asking them questions and they can start telling me about the thing they are really excited about: whether it be, architecture, a new anime series they are watching, or their latest play through of Five Nights At Freddy’s. With an entire world of information out there that students are excited about, talking about studying the same 5 subjects for 12 years is the conversational equivalent of watching paint dry. I love learning and I plan on expanding my noggin’ until the day I die, but that kind of excitement is difficult to translate to youth. This is a sentiment that has to be learned on one’s own.

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STEM education is in a special place. It’s a field of eternal change and growth, therefore, making it a subject that requires constant tweaking and understanding. And much like the rest of education, it has no boundaries. You can apply STEM education to history, or english, or mathematics, etc.  but. . .  THAT DOESN’T MEAN ANYTHING TO KIDS.  Kids don’t care that you can make a program that helps them remember historical dates, or that they can create a game that is based off of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven. Why? Because every interaction that kids have with technology is in the realm of their interests, not what the government sanctioned necessary to become a functional adult in America. If you tie STEM education back to the subjects that they are already forced to know, educators all over are missing a powerful learning opportunity.

I’d say about 2 times a week I have a conversation that follows this similar pattern:

*Student Sitting Behind Computer Looking Discouraged/Frustrated/Tired etc*

Me: Hey, what’s up?

Student: I don’t know what to do.

Me: Well, what do you like? What are you interested in?

Student: (Insert Anime/Video Game/Fan Fiction Title Here/Subject/Culture)*

Me: Oh, well then just make something about that then.

It’s interesting to see how students react to this suggestion. Some are skeptical, some are hesitant, others are overjoyed. I think this suggestion takes so many off-guard because in the traditional education system, students are seldom taught that they can use what they care about to aid their education and not be something that’s distracting them from “an education”.

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We’re at a special time in education. While it’s not necessary to know historical dates or who is the Id, Ego, or Id in Lord of the Flies (although I think it will benefit you as a human) as time moves forward it’s becoming more and more clear that it is necessary to be technologically literate. We, as educators in the tech field, are wielding an incredible amount of power. Are we going to revert back to the tired ways of education’s stale formulaic past? Or are we going to take charge, push ourselves to learn as much as our students, and reshape how we teach in the classroom?

 

2016 Spring Game Jam

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[Youth participants of the Spring 2016 Game Jam]

 

We hosted a Scratch Game Jam on Friday, March 11 and Saturday, March 12. The weekend Game Jam turned out to be the most exciting and fruitful Game Jam we have ever hosted. With 19 youth in attendance it definitely seems like this event will keep on getting bigger and bigger every time we host it.

 

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[Sample Game Code from Game Jam]

 

For those of you who do not know what Scratch or Game Jam is here is some information on both. Scratch is a web based game development environment developed by the team at the MIT Media Lab. With Scratch you can drag and drop pieces of code in a simple to use interface which provides an easy way for our youth to learn simple and even complex programming principles in no time.

Game Jam is a hackathon style game development event hosted at the Digital Harbor Foundation. The event runs on a Friday evening and all day Saturday. Youth participants come together on Friday and form development teams to create a game together. As a guide for the youth, we provide a schedule sheet of the event along with information on how they can divide their team members and assign roles for everyone. Along with almost everything we do here at the Digital Harbor Foundation we try to keep an open format for the youth to either work on their own or on a team.  

 

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[Fan Favorites]

 

Team Panda were the Spring 2016 Game Jam Fan Favorites! They created a platform game called Panda Portal Jumpers that incorporates easy to use game mechanics in a fun, simple and yet hard to beat game.

 

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[We always need to take a crazy picture]

 

As we move to hosting more and more Game Jams as time passes I start to wonder what this event will look like in the future. With the increase in youth participation I can’t wait until we turn this event into a true game development hackathon! Here at the Digital Harbor Foundation we always strive to provide a safe, comfortable, and yet challenging, environment for our youth to create, explore, and fail. The Spring 2016 Game Jam is just one of the these environments. Here is the link to our 2016 Scratch Game Jam Studio if you’d like to see more of the games our youth created! We are already so excited for our next Game Jam, which will take place in October. 

 

DHF, Make Studio, & 3D Printing

One of the most exciting and engaging aspects of living and working in a city like Baltimore is having the opportunity to be involved in so many amazing and inspiring organizations. Over the past couple weeks, two organizations that I hold very close to my heart, both of whom inspire and enrich the communities that surround them through making, came together for a brief but awesome new collaboration.

Make Studio is a community-based art center and studio located in Hampden that provides programming, studio space, and exhibition opportunities to artists with disabilities. Artists involved in Make Studio make and use a wide range of materials and processes and exhibit their work throughout the Baltimore and Mid-Atlantic region. Make Studio is celebrating the aesthetics and concerns of artists commonly typed as “outsiders”, and bringing visibility to their observations and points-of-view, and essential asset to the vibrancy of our cultural sector.

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DHF staff members Amber, Jonathan, and Darius joined me in a visit to Make Studio to introduce a Tinkercad and 3D printing as a new form of making that potentially could be a new and inspiring process for artists to experiment with. Several artists got their feet wet exploring 3D modeling and how it translates to the ideas and imagery they use in their studio practice.

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Jerry Williams, also known by his alter-ego “Partyman” is a long time member of Make Studio and an avid painter and sculptor often working with found materials. He is inspired by WWE, the circus, as well as superheroes, and for a long time has been developing a series of Batmobile inspired sculptures from styrofoam and found materials. Tinkercad was an interesting new opportunity to see how these designs would translate onto the computer with 3D modeling and into a 3D print. “This was my first time using Tinkercad, I could see this as a special feature on the Batman DVDs. I really enjoyed doing the tutorials in Tinkercad. I like working with new technology, this might be something I use to create a logo for my future art organization Williams Art Enterprizes. I would be interested in making more models of the Batmobile!”

Jerry-BatmobilePrint Jerry-batmobile Jerry
Aimee Eliason originally began her artistic pursuits in oil painting and has since explored a wide variety of mediums including painting sculpture, crocheting, digital art and photography.  She is fascinated by textures and can be inspired by something as subtle as the wrinkles on a piece of paper. Much of Aimee’s subject matter involves animals and/or anime, in Tinkercad she chose to develop (princess??) which not only turned out awesome, but also floored DHF staff members with how quickly she was able to pick up 3D modeling to create complex forms. “I loved Tinkercad and will use it again, there are so many exciting things to make!”

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Similarly, Dasha Kalumuck who joined Make Studio in 2015 picked up Tinkercad very quickly and was able to make some really fantastic characters. Dasha likes to take ideas and concepts and put her own spin on them in order to give the viewer a different perspective and as an artist is often using these skills to create character designs. Dasha uses many two-dimensional mediums including watercolor, acrylic, markers, sharpies, colored pencils, and collage but through the workshop was very inspired by 3D modeling as well. “I enjoyed Tinkercad a lot, it was super easy and fun! I am definitely doing this again, definitely! I was happy to just jump in and try something new. Seeing things I designed turn into real 3D things I can hold is amazing!”

Dasha Dasha-Heart
Louis Middleton often is found painting at Make Studio, but also has had a lot of experience working with computers. With the support of his family, Louis operates his own photo restoration business and has long enjoyed taking his own photographs, and now at Make Studio he is working to advance his computer skills, digitally manipulating photographs and original imagery, discovering new ways to express himself. Louis has many interests, but is often inspired by architecture and buildings he sees around Baltimore and that he finds online. After getting familiar working with Tinkercad, Louis tried out creating his own building based upon a painting he was already working on in the studio. “The experience was pretty good, I made a building from a painting that I have been working on and I had fun doing it”

Louis Louis-House
Margie Smeller knew a little bit about 3D printing before from her uncle who runs a makerspace in San Antonio however this was the first time she had the opportunity to try it out herself. Playing around in Tinkercad it was interesting to see how the colors and shapes drew similarities to the colors and patterns that can be found in her work. She was also able to create a 3D printed keychain for herself.

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Margie Smeller Wonderland Tea Towel Collection $155

Gary Schmedes is a big fan of animation and is inspired by animation classics. In his work he primarily uses pen, ink, and watercolor and therefore was a little skeptical about any 3D modeling or computer based work. Despite this, he dove into Tinkercad, learning how to create different forms and ultimately produced this awesome print based on a character he has been working with. “Tinkercad was a good website, designing on it was neat. I designed a toad named Mr. Toad, although if I were to do this again I would have given him arms. It was really fun to create my own character in 3D, maybe for future projects I will use Tinkercad again.”

Gary-MrToad-1 Gary Gary-MrToad