Zion Greene and Damion Saunders are building a robot out of Crayola markers, a plastic cup, a DC motor and a piece of foam pool noodle. “What if we made a chain belt, like chains on a bike?” asks Zion, 14, as he threads a rubber band around the motor’s tiny bit.
In a vast room inside a former recreation center, 25 middle school and high school kids are tinkering, testing and inventing. At five tables, kids try to build artbots, three-legged machines designed to move and leave marks on paper. Across the room, kids are sticking red, yellow and green LED lights into circuit boards, then typing code into laptops to make them turn on. Nearby, a 3D printer darts to and fro with a white-noise shhhh, emitting a faint odor of burning plastic as it produces a yellow pendant etched with a honeycomb pattern.
It’s late afternoon and kids from Baltimore and beyond are gathered for after-school courses at the Digital Harbor Foundation, a nonprofit laboratory that has a serious mission to inspire children living in the city’s core to play with technology as eagerly as they do video games. In the middle of the room, Shawn Grimes, the 37-year-old executive director of Digital Harbor, stands up his own artbot: a foam noodle-topped cup that vibrates on three pencil legs. Damion, 11, watches from the next table. “Let’s re-create that,” Damion says to his partner, reaching for some pencils.
Each Tuesday is EducationTuesday here at Adafruit! Be sure to check out our posts about educators and all things STEM. Adafruit supports our educators and loves to spread the good word about educational STEM innovations!
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.