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Baltimore organization creates makerspace for urban teens

Digital Harbor image

A student works on a project at the Digital Harbor Foundation’s Tech Center in Baltimore, MD

Maker: Shawn Grimes, Director of Technology, Digital Harbor Foundation

Proudest Maker Moment: “when I built my first 3D printer just over a year ago”

For Shawn Grimes, making is all about learning new things and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

“Everyone can consume, but not enough of us take the daring step to create and make,” says Grimes.

A long time “software maker”, Grimes discovered a hidden passion for hardware and physical making when he signed on as Director of Technology at the Digital Harbor Foundation, which recently launched a Baltimore-based makerspace for young people, ages 12 to 18, called the Tech Center.

“I’ve never thought of myself as good with my hands or tools,” says Grimes. “I like having an undo button.”

As his own confidence grows, Grimes feels the same level of pride watching students discover their own knack for making. Recalling the time he watched a student build a 3D printer, he can’t help but get a little emotional.

“Thinking about how huge of an accomplishment that was for him and the impact that has had on his life still makes my eyes water,” says Grimes.

Representatives from the Digital Harbor Foundation will be on hand at the upcoming DC Mini Maker Faire to talk about how young people can get involved in the maker movement.

Grime’s advice for new makers?

“Start right now! Make mistakes and use the internet for help. Google and YouTube are your friends.”

Making the engineers of the future

Dorothy

Maker: Dorothy Jones-Davis, co-organizer, DC Mini Maker Faire

Proudest Maker Moment: “Seeing a kid’s face light up as they made a paper circuit light up!”

As a scientist, Dorothy Jones-Davis sees the Maker Movement as a great way to introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to kids of all backgrounds. But for Jones-Davis, the maker movement is also personal.

“Most of my making is with my five year old daughter,” say Jones-Davis. “She’s really into art and design, so we look for ways to make that blend art and story-telling with STEM concepts.”

In her current position as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, Jones-Davis spends a lot of time thinking about ways to introduce engineering to kids who aren’t naturally drawn to STEM subjects.

“A lot of kids don’t know what engineering is,” says Jones-Davis. “Making can help expose them to different types of activities an engineer might do, making it easier for them to picture themselves as engineers.”

According to Jones-Davis, events like Maker Faires can help by getting kids to start thinking about careers in science and engineering sooner.

“The more pathways we can create to STEM fields, and the earlier we can create them, the better,” says Jones- Davis.

 

Two weeks until the DC Mini Maker Faire!

In two weeks, makers will descend on the District to attend the first-ever DC Mini Maker Faire.

Amateur tinkerers and DIY enthusiasts “from 2 to 92” will have the opportunity to interact with experienced makers at this free, all-ages event, which will be held at Yards Park in southeast Washington D.C. from 11am-7pm.

Find out if you have what it takes to be a maker on June 8, 2014.

See you there!

Yards_Park

Yards Park, SE Washington D.C. Image credit: Elvert Barnes

For more information, visit http://makerfairedc.com/attend/

 

“Making” a Better Classroom

Kaye

Maker: Kaye Ebelt, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator at the National Science Foundation

Proudest Maker Moment: “Getting back into computer coding and designing things from scratch”

A year ago, Kaye Ebelt had never heard of the maker movement.

As an elementary school teacher in Missoula, Montana, Ebelt had taught everything from language arts, to math, science, and even robotics, but it wasn’t until arriving in Washington D.C. in the fall that she began to consider the potential ways making could enhance her classroom curriculum.

“I thought making was just 3D printing,” says Ebelt. “It encompasses so much more than I imagined.”

With engineering concepts set to debut in the K-12 curriculum in the 2016-17 school year, teachers across the country are scrambling to assemble resources and lesson plans that incorporate more design and materials science. According to Ebelt, making could be a great way to introduce these concepts.

“Engineering education involves decision making, design sketching, construction and testing of physical products,” says Ebelt. “All of these concepts can be explored in the maker space.”

Ebelt and her colleagues will debut a scale model of a futuristic city, complete with high-tech buildings, space-age vehicles, and smart energy systems at the DC Mini Maker Faire on June 8, 2014. The team designed and created each component using CAD software and 3D printers.

Having mastered many of the tools of the maker trade over the last year, Ebelt hopes more teachers will embrace the maker movement as a way to teach engineering concepts and engage students who might not have a knack for traditional math and science topics.

“The best engineering students aren’t always the best math and science students,” says Ebelt. “Being able to solve problems with your hands is a skill that’s often overlooked.”