This is a brief article/report of our joint effort in partnership with Christel House to bring a high quality education to every kid in Mexico regardless of their social and economic status to empower them.
Over the summer I had the amazing privilege of hosting a FAB! camp. A three week course that consisted in students learning about 3D printing, laser cutting and video game development, all in partnership with Museo Tamayo. The goal of this camp was to give kids access to STEAM and a project based education.
The interesting thing about FAB! is that everyone is different. Diversity is something that we embrace and encourage in kids. Because of this, each group is unique and brings new challenges to the table.
The best kind of FAB! is achieved when different backgrounds and personalities come together to solve a problem.
As adults we tend to have social boundaries that stop us from freely interacting with each other, for kids it’s a whole different story. Kids just see more players in a game or more ideas on the table to make a cool project.
This summer we received one of our biggest donations which let us offer eight scholarships at a great non-profit whose work is admirable.
In short, we doubled our efforts expanded our impact. We procured the necessary donations to make a social Makers in Residence for young adults in public high schools within the Mexico City area. This translated to granting eight scholarships from Christel House.
Christel House is a non-profit whose mission is to provide high-quality education for kids in poor zones in Mexico City.
They offer them the kind of the education you would hope to have if you attended one of the best schools in Mexico City. They are proficient in english and are highly prepared for the competitive world we live in. They not only give these kids an education, they give them basic necessities and offer them unique experiences.
I was personally amazed by the kids of Christel House to be honest, we had some international participants and some of the curriculum we gave this time was in English and they always stood out from the group.
I was amazed to see that there was no difference among all participants. There were no individuals or little groups, instead they became one big group and worked together.
So let me tell you a little of what went on this summer camp…
FAB! Technology Summer Camp 2017
3D Printing and Arts
We expanded our curriculum and gave the kids a specific 3D printing workshop. We taught them 3D printing first by making models with clay and then use software to make their creations.
A technique used by many in higher level 3D courses. It is a basic tool for creating characters and for example, their animations. It is also used in professional grade courses for the same purpose. This gives our students the opportunity to explore the production pipelines that are used today. Thus, achieving one of the main goals in FAB, giving them the confidence to learn on their own and build real world products.
We complemented the workshop with a dedicated class on Art & Sculpture. We invited one of the museum’s most talented artists Pia Vazquez and a guided tour by the resident specialist, Ana Bidart. The students got to experience art up close and personal. They learned the history, technique and impact of each piece, giving way to new perspectives and thoughts of their own.
Another thing we did was teach kids something we think is a little bit forgotten in any 3D printing workshop, how to set up a 3D printer and how to correctly print. We did this in order to give kids the basic knowledge so if they ever get a 3D printer they could use it without any problems.
We wanted to make sure students had everything they need in relation to 3D printing knowledge base. Everything from how to set up a 3D printer to understanding how to correctly print. When you boil down the information to basics, all 3D printers are very similar and gives them the opportunity to innovate from the ground up. Allowing them to use any printer with any setup.
One of the most essential parts of 3D printing are the three axis. It’s its key to understand how a 3D printer works and basically a fundamental principle in CAD. So we used a 3D printing pen, allowing them to understand how their hand worked as the three axis. They were able to identify by first hand how speed and precision is a key factor in 3D printing.
At the end, we closed the week by doing a final presentation where the kids got to show their peers and parents their final project and talk about how they made it. We believe giving kids the spotlight to showcase their ideas is crucial to boost their confidence in technology and innovation.
Laser Cutting and Materials Science.
Often forgotten and the most accesible tool in a makerspace, laser cutting is one of the friendliest tools to teach kids. It’s fast and easy to understand, you can make almost anything and getting access to one is easy. Also is mesmerizing how the laser works it’s way though the material and you can get easily hooked on making stuff.
As expected by now, we wanted to twist things up a little bit in this week too, we decided that we were going to teach kids not only how to cut with laser but also science of materials. Why? Science of Materiales is a core pillar in fabrication today, understanding how materials work and why we use them can give kids a the big picture of how are things made nowadays.
It’s easy to forget why we use certain materials and what are in those materials. This summer camp we did experiments in fabric, mdf, paper and acrylic.
So we got the kids thinking in why we use fabric that has no polyvinyl chloride and what kind of things they could create. Also how the power and speed impacts the cut and depends on the material they use. Every time they experimented with a material we let them discover by themselves the speed and power needed for each material.
The group in this particular week was outstanding, they did research outside of the summer camp and came up with higher level projects that we expected. One of the most outstanding projects were Christian’s flexible wristband and Sofía’s boat. We are really amazed on the quality of their work and how they went the extra mile in their work. We believe that this kind of actions are the ones that in the future are going to shape Mexico and it’s innovation.
Video Game Development and Design.
This was the toughest week in the whole summer camp, but nontheless the most popular one. This week was all about creating a simple 8-bit game. It’s actually surprising how the younger generations are involved in some kind of video game, it could be from Minecraft to even Overwatch. Never the less it’s something they have grew into and it makes it an attractive way to learn.
We started this week by telling the kids the story of video games and how 8-bit games are the basis of all the games we play today, from nintendo to the first pong game ever created.
It’s is surprising how kids nowadays don’t realize how coding is a big part of a game, one of the challenges we tackled this week was ending with the misconception that a video game works is by magic and that is just a simple as just telling a character to move to the right to dodge an enemy like telling Siri to remind you of an importan meeting.
We showed them two basic principles in the construction of video game; art and the coding of the game itself. They learned how to design their 8-bit art and how to animate it with code.
For the art part of the curriculum, we focused on how to bring their characters to life. How animation and frames work in the design of a video game character. Another part was the story of the game, a key factor in the success of a game; Zelda wouldn’t be the franchise we know today if it weren’t for their rich story that captivates millions.
Furthermore, we focused on how to play the game and it’s user interface by making paper prototypes of the games before getting into coding. This was done so they could easily identify any problems beforehand and so they could easily map how the code should behave and divide their work into a series of steps.
For the coding part of the game, we did many examples on how to use App Inventor sprints and made things easier by diving animations in passive and active animations. Passive animations are the ones that are always on motion and don’t depend on anything to change. Active animations were the ones that if the user tapped the screen or did a certain movement it would set off the animation. Our approach of video game design focuses on how the game should behave and let our young developers decide and think on how they are going to use this tools.
Ultimately we added some basic coding like scores and start button, so it was a playable game and not just some animations joined together. At the end of the week all of the kids came up with different games and although they were different ages they did an excellent job.
It was a tough project for kids to take on and especially in the time given; 20 hrs, but the projects they made are absolutely amazing. Video games are something we take easily for granted, but they are hours of work put together by talented individuals. The fact that a kid can make a simple but working video game just blows our mind and we hope we can inspire them to start coding and developing their own projects.
Like every other week we had an event at the end, this week we did a little video game fair where we invited the parents and families to take part and try the games. They gave feedback to our young developers and most important give them a spotlight to explain how was it made and showcase it.
To wrap things up…
FAB! Summer Camp 2017 was a success! We couldn’t be happier with the results. The kids were outstanding! Their ideas and ability to go the extra mile for their projects was amazing. Encouraging kids to make their ideas a possibility is something we strive in FAB!
In the end it’s all about cherishing our younger generation’s ideas and empowering them to create and innovate. Is not just a summer camp, having access to hands-on and project based education is life changing.
And who knows maybe this will inspire them to keep on creating and innovating in the future and just maybe this kids will change our world.
Finally, we want to thank our ally, Museo Rufino Tamayo for providing the space and the talented individuals in their education workshop. Also, we want to thank Christel House for letting us meet their talented students, whom we hope to work with in the near future. Without them this Summer Camp wouldn’t be the same!
Want to learn more about FAB! Learning México?
If you want to learn more about the non-profit and what projects we’re involved, you can do so in the next links:
** Special thanks to Patrick Moss for his revision of this article. 🙌🏻