Summer camp is back.
For the first time since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Federal Hill’s Digital Port Foundation (DHF) will be hosting in-person educational activities for young summer creators next week. The non-profit organization’s summer camps, which begin on June 28, will be led by the recently hired DHF Technical Center Director Robert Moore.
For four weeks, maker camps for two cohorts of elementary and middle school students — totaling 38 young people — will meet at the DHF Tech Center in Federal Hill. They will gain hands-on experience learning 3D design and printing. They will also learn how to create games with Scratcha block-based programming language created by MIT, and the basics of computer science.
The Digital Harbor Foundation also employs youth through the City of Baltimore YouthWorks Program. The project-based virtual experience, called Summer SLAM on the future of work, will include teamwork and design thinking, as well as opportunities to learn a new technology skill and participate in a podcast. In all, the organization serves 210 young people this summer.
Since Moore’s hire on May 3, his job has been to prepare the Tech Center for in-person summer camp sessions.
“I came into a situation where it was about reorganizing,” Moore said. “[DHF] did the virtual pivot like everyone else during COVID. The actual space was therefore not able to accommodate the children again.
The Digital Harbor Foundation has been involved in many activities at the intersection of technology and youth support over the past year, such as helping the Youth workthe program becomes virtual, co-organizes the virtual Slam COVID for young people and fiscal sponsorship organizations like Project waves and the Last Mile Education Fund. However, familiar tech hub programming like summer camps has been put on hold due to pandemic restrictions.
From Monday, the technology center will once again host learning and manufacturing. During the camps, young people will learn the applications of 3D printing, how to turn a series of 2D shapes into 3D models, and work through the design process to create a unique project that they can print for a week. Next week they will learn basic programming and game design using Scratch.
Prior to being hired at DHF, Moore co-founded and ran a STEM education company FullBlast STEAM, bring engineering and robotics activities to organizations looking to give young people familiarity and confidence with STEM skills. The secret FullBlast STEAM sauce that Moore wants to bring to Digital Harbor and camp? Make STEM education fun.
“I want to make it feel like it’s a time to have fun, explore, and look back at the skills you’ve learned,” Moore said. “I hope that by the end [the camp] their imagination is now stimulated and they will have another tool in their toolkit to create with.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member of Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-