By Shawn Grimes, Director of Technology
Digital Harbor Foundation
On May 30, Digital Harbor Foundation hosted the Digital Fab SLAM Finale event where five high school teams gathered at the Digital Harbor Foundation Tech Center in Baltimore’s Federal Hill area to present their digitally designed and fabricated projects to a public audience and a panel of six judges. The theme for this cycle of the challenge was “Play” and teams could interpret this theme in any way they chose, as long as their product was designed by digital means and created using digital fabrication tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters. Teams were given eight weeks to design, fabricate, and prepare for presentations.
Participating teams from around the Baltimore area included The Bryn Mawr School, Digital Harbor High School, Patapsco High School, and Western High School. Four of the five teams had participated in a previous Digital Fab SLAM, held earlier this year and one team, the team from Patapsco, had no prior knowledge of or experience with digital design and fabrication.
Judges and guests were all very impressed with the amount of creativity and imagination the students infused into their ideas and designs. Our First Place team, from Western High School, created a “Hungry Hungry Hippos” game clone called “Munching Mammals” where they modified the existing game to include new characters and a word game component. This was wildly popular among the attendees of the event and their station was bustling all evening long. The Western HS team branched out a little more into the world of digital fabrication during this cycle by designing pieces in Illustrator and using the laser cutter to produce their modified parts.
The Second Place team, one of the teams from The Bryn Mawr School, created a coin-based toy called “Race The Dime”. The goal of their design was to create a fun and engaging way for younger children to learn about money and saving. The team’s design included a rollercoaster-like track for coins and a personal bank. The team made sure to consult with their physics teacher for accuracy and functionality of their designs.
The team from Patapsco High School was awarded Third Place for their Modern Labyrinth puzzle design. This team wanted to redesign the classic large wooden maze to allow for a more customizable and portable product. Based on the original, they created a smaller version with interchangeable mazes that can be customized for level of difficulty or for players to create their own mazes to be used with the base – especially if they have access to a 3D printer! This team became very comfortable using the OpenScad software since it is code-based and their background is in programming mobile apps and games.
Other designs included Digital Harbor High School’s “HideBot” and Bryn Mawr’s “Marble Mash”.
Despite facing a number challenges, such as conflicting school commitments, final exams, broken printers, and crashing software, the teams all did an amazing job of designing innovative and well-thought out products. During this process they all learned more about digital design and tools for fabrication that they may not have known about before starting this challenge.
As an added bonus, we were pleased to showcase a Printrbot Jr. 3D printer that was built by one of the Digital Harbor High School students! Darius worked almost every day over the last four weeks at the Tech Center to assemble a Printrbot Jr. that was generously donated by Printrbot. He finished building the printer right before the event began, with just enough time to create a few test prints.
These Digital Fab SLAMs have been a tremendously effective way for us to encourage students to explore digital design, 3D printing, and digital fabrication and connect them with an industry that these students had very little knowledge of prior to participating in these challenges. We are excited about the future possibilities, not only for these types of events, but also for the skills, talent, creativity, and imagination that these students are now able to infuse into their future work, back into our community, and possibly back into the industry.
View more photos of the event on Flickr