Latest Entries...

GK Teams Score at Emoti-Con 

This past weekend at the youth digital media challenge, Emoti-Con, a whopping ten teams of youth representing eight Global Kids school sites showcased games and other projects they had spent the year or semester developing.


Beaming with pride, they spoke to judges and other passersby at the project fair about the elements of their games, their games' backstories and topics, the challenges that cropped up during the coding process, and the iterative cycle.


Photo by Neha Gautam.



The event exposed students to professionals in fields the youth were interested in, including art design, coding, game design, and business operation.


A user experience designer described his job as making sure that the company doesn't design products that people don't like and won't use. In response, 6th grader Joseph Cruz remarked, "Oh, like the Apple watch?"


Global Kids youth leaders from Academy for Health Careers walked away from the event with one of the coveted top 5 awards, Best Point of View, for their project "Squad Up: Finding Kathy," a geo-locative game that explores the life of a teen who must gather support for a friend in trouble, teaching players about the Convention on the Rights of the Child in the process.


Photo by Neha Gautam.

The youth at Bryant High School's game, "Life of a Queens Teen: Daniella's Journey" won an honorable mention, as did the Twine game "On the Run," produced by Playing for Keeps Citywide participants.


Photo by Neha Gautam.

Don't just take our word for it! The game designers at Bryant High School, working with trainer Neha Gautam, put together a narrated slide show of images from the awesome day:


Emoti-Con 2015 from NehaGautam on Vimeo.


Special thanks to all of the trainers involved in supporting youth through the design process and at Emoti-Con, and to the Hive Learning Network for putting this fabulous event together.


Why Global Kids Matters 

Why Global Kids Matters
When I joined Global Kids in 2011, I knew that it was an organization with impactful programs, providing a range of in-school, afterschool and summer programs, with a youth driven learning model that taps into students’ curiosity and prepares them with the skills and tools they need to make an impact. By integrating global awareness, digital media learning, peer-education, academic skill building, and college and career preparation, Global Kids enables underserved youth to explore critical issues facing the world and learn how these issues are relevant to their own lives. I had come to see a talk at Global Kids on the use of Open Sims to teach kids about human rights, and I immediately thought that it was a place that I wanted to keep in my radar. It became clear to me that it was a special organization, when I came for an interview for a Program Associate position and they told me that the students were part of their staff selection process. As part of that selection process, I came to do a workshop using Scratch and after the workshop, the students asked questions about my professional career, my goals as an educator, and why I wanted to be part of their lives. It was an impressive display of young people taking charge of selecting who they wanted to be part of their learning process.  Now, I really wanted the job. And I got it!
Global Kids, was highly collaborative, energetic, and placed the young people it served at the center of their work. I traveled to several sites around the city, getting to know a complex system of partnerships with schools and other cultural institutions, including the Hive Learning Network.
Later on, as I took on the role of the Associate Director of OLP, my goal was to continue creating programs that aligned with the mission of Global Kids, and develop projects that used technology and digital media in meaningful ways to a group of a diverse middle and high school students who come primarily from a Hispanic and African American background. It was not an easy task. I was always thinking about sustaining programs that were successful, but also creating new ones that would bring a new and interesting focus to the organization. I started using little bits for a workshop about natural disasters, and created the Hive Youth Meetups to bring youth from different organizations across the Hive NYC Learning Network to increase their awareness about the possibilities of collaborations and programs available to them. I was also interested in expanding programs to other networks, and worked with Hofstra University and Educational Development Center on the iDesign program, to bring game design, culturally relevant pedagogy, and developing computational thinking to after-school programs for middle schools in Long Island and New York City. 
During my time at Global Kids, I had the opportunity to work with an impressive group of people, like Sara Vogel, Joliz Cedeño, and Ryan Waingortin, part of the OLP team. We worked to brainstorm and develop workshops that were innovative and well designed. Through the  grants and professional development of Hive NYC Learning Network I also worked with people like Dixie Ching (NYU) and Rafi Santo (Indiana University) of Hive Research Lab, Erica Kermani (Eyebeam), Vee Bravo (Tribeca Film Institute), Marisa Jahn (Rev Studio), Zac Rudge, Ana Campos (Parks and Recreation), Rob DiRenzo (Digital Ready), Brian Cohen (Beam Center), etc. All of them professionals working with youth that were always thinking about how to innovate, inspire and create substantive programs. Of course, working with Leah Gilliam, Chris Lawrence, Lainie DeCoursy and Julia Vallera—all from the Mozilla/Hive Networks team— was also a highlight during my time at Global Kids. There were so many great, inspiring colleagues that I designed and collaborated with over the years that the list is too long to complete! If I miss you, it was an oversight, nothing else. 
I learned a lot from Barry Joseph (American Museum of Natural History) and Jack Martin (Providence Public Library), who were at the helm of OLP before me. 
As many of you know, I am moving out of New York City and join the Seattle Public Library as their Digital Media and Learning Manager. As anyone in our profession knows, when an opportunity comes along that is both personally and professionally attractive you have to rise to the occasion, so is the case for me with the position in Seattle. However, none of my professional development would be possible without the support I received here at Global Kids, especially from its Executive Director, Evie Hantzopoulos. I will always bring a little of GK with me. The work that they do in the fields of youth development, service learning, and international affairs education is not only important for the more than 1,300 youth reached in the after-school and in-school programs but also for professionals like me who find a calling to serve youth and communities around the world. It is for that reason and for many more that I ask you to continue supporting Global Kids, please take the time to make a donation at
Keep reaching out to them and forming the strong collaborations that make them unique and special. For questions regarding programs or other matters, please email evie (at)
GK All Day! 

A Year of NYC Haunts at Global Neighborhood! 

Seventh and eighth graders at Global Neighborhood Secondary School reached a key mid-year milestone before the December break: they completed their very first location-based games using the tool, TaleBlazer. Students collaborated in small groups to plan out and code the games, and to draw, photograph, and use image-editing software to create the art for the game. They also worked together to write their games’ stories.




Students from the art elective joined the group for indoor and outdoor playtests, and provided valuable feedback for the youth game designers.



The focus project that students have been working on in 2015 is a location-based game featuring “ghosts” from El Barrio’s past. To prepare students to brainstorm the game’s location, characters, story and mechanics, we visited spots around the neighborhood, interviewing local residents and taking video and photographs.


Students practiced their interview and camera skills in the classroom...


...and then put them to work out in the field. Here, one group interviews Nikki, who works for a bakery and job-training non-profit in La Marqueta.



They also explored the neighborhood’s history through the completion of an El Barrio history timeline, and through examining old photographs. All of this background research culminated in students imagining characters that could have lived in the neighborhood over the last century, including Italian, Puerto Rican and Dominican immigrants.


One group decided to create a location-based game about an Italian immigrant, set in East Harlem during the 1920s Prohibition Era. One group decided to set their location-based game in present-day East Harlem. That game is about a Dominican immigrant who has recently arrived in New York, and must complete "missions" to get settled in the neighborhood. 


Looking forward to the finished projects, set to roll out in June!

Hive Youth Meet-Ups Perspectives on a Collaboration 

Hive Youth Meet-ups – Two Perspectives on a Collaboration

By Juan Rubio and Zac Rudge

Hive Youth Meet-ups are 3-hour events that include a workshop facilitated by a Hive member organization, three youth presentations, and time for socializing, both amongst youth and organizational representatives. Below are reflections from two members of the planning team around the inspiration, design, and development of the event model. Juan Rubio is Associate Director of the Global Kids Online Leadership Program. Zac Rudge is Citywide Outreach and RecYouth Coordinator at the Parks and Recreation Computer Resource Center (CRC) program.

Juan’s Perspective

The Hive Youth Meet-up idea started with a conversation I had with Dixie Ching about youth pathways. She was interviewing me for her research on the topic and I told her that for me the Hive Learning Network represented an opportunity to learn from other professionals like me, form collaborations with others working on the same field and same goals. I mentioned to her that it would be great if we could create the same experience for young people. She liked the idea and encouraged me to develop it. She included me in a design charrette where some ideas were presented to Hive members and I explained the concept and intention behind the Hive Youth Meet-ups. At that design charrette, the idea of forming a meet-up for Hive Youth gained interest from other organizations and a working group was formed to develop the project.

I had seen some efforts to create youth groups at the Hive before, but I thought they were very adult-centered and sounded as if the kids had to make a big commitment to be part of them. My idea was to create a space where they would feel at the center of the event: an experience produced by them and where they could showcase their involvement in Hive programs. I was also interested in creating a space where young people could form bonds with each other and explore possible collaborations.

A key component of the Hive Youth Meet-up model was the design process that took place prior to its implementation. At the design charrette, I was able to form a group of Hive professionals who were interested in developing and implementing the idea. It was then that Erica Kermani from Eyebeam, Chris Amos from Carnegie Hall, Zac Rudge from CRC Parks and Rec, and Brian Cohen from Beam Center formed the core group to plan and design the first HYM, with assistance from Hive Research Lab. Thinking back to this point in time, I think the design charrette helped me recruit members from Hive organizations that were supportive of the idea of youth meet-ups; I also now had a group of people committed to providing input and helping me develop out the model. I was able to secure some funds through Mozilla and we started planning and implementing the meet-ups.

Another key component of the meet-ups was the assistance and guidance provided by Rafi Santo and Dixie Ching on the design and evaluation of the program. Their input was extremely helpful as we began to develop the program because we were being intentional about the goals we had in mind and the strategies we would implement to achieve those goals. You can read their excellent write up of their process here.

After meeting a few times and deciding on the model to use, we had our first meet-up at Beam Center in Brooklyn on a Sunday. We were expecting to have a good number of kids but the attendance was low. However, there were 3 youth presentations: one from a film program at the Brooklyn Public Library, one from Global Kids’s Playing for Keeps, a game design citywide program, and one from Eyebeam’s Playable Fashion. I would say that having that first meet-up was also crucial for moving forward and having a better model in place. We met again to reflect on the first meet-up and plan for the next one. Based on the observations from that first meet-up, we decided to have a workshop that was more interactive, and would be held on a weekday in order to increase attendance, and to have young people be the emcees.

Zac’s Perspective

Last summer I sat down at a table with a group of people that I had never met. Representing the Parks and Recreation Computer Resource Centers, I was at a design ‘charrette’ (the meaning of which I was also slightly unsure) to talk about youth trajectories, something that was familiar to me, having worked in the youth development space in a number of different time zones. I was also hoping to build relationships with organizations that could support the CRC to creatively meet the needs of young teens that we worked with. I remember Dixie Ching, who was leading the process, asking if I had brought a computer (no), and generously providing a machine for me to tap away on. I had attended a few Hive meet-ups, and was starting to recognize some familiar faces, but this was my first time getting down to the nitty gritty—actually talking and working through new ideas with people.

As the workshop got going, I remember Juan Rubio introducing the idea of a Hive for teens. Though I was still working out what the Hive for adults was all about, a teen version seemed like a very simple, clear, good idea. Thinking about the needs of teens that the CRC works with, and coming from many years working for a youth-led organization, I was immediately struck by the value of having greater opportunities for Hive-affiliated teens to get together, share and test ideas, learn new things, and to begin the process of developing pathways into the Hive itself through leadership roles in the ‘youth version’ of the Hive. That day it seemed like we had planned it all out (we hadn’t), but from there Juan, with the support of Mozilla and the Hive organizations who participated in the discussion that day, managed to secure just enough funding and organizational social capital to test the idea out.

By organizational social capital I mean the people and organizations who agreed to jump in, without any significant financial input, to road-test the idea: Erica Kermani at Eyebeam, Chris Amos at Carnegie Hall, Brian Cohen at Beam Center, Juan Rubio at Global Kids, and Dixie Ching and Rafi Santo from the Hive Research Lab (HRL). Rafi and Dixie deserve a special mention here—their support has been invaluable, particularly in relation to outcome measurement, but also simply by virtue of their energy and support for the project—shout out to Rafi and Dixie!

We officially started the planning process in September, with the idea of holding three events to test out the model and we are now two Hive Youth Meet-ups in (we found a name, though it may change!), and the momentum is building. Generally speaking, our goals were to help teens build relationships, pick up new skills, and learn about resources and opportunities in the Hive. In a  way, we hope Hive educators will find HYMs to be a useful mechanism to get the word out about programs.In the spirit of prototyping and iteration (more new terms I was to become comfortable with through this process), we have designed a strong model that aims to, in simple terms, be a version of the Hive for teens. However, as well as achieving what we set out to achieve, there were a few unexpected outcomes (good ones).

Our first HYM, in November at Beam Center, was a chance to test out the initial idea. There were a few bumps (we held it on a Sunday, which everyone after the fact agreed was a bad idea), and some of us completely missed on our commitment to get participants to the event (yes, that was me). However, the event supported our concept—the fundamentals were right; we just needed to tweak it a little. Participants were led through an introductory workshop using Python and Raspberry Pi, which gave a great view into the world of CPUs and code. We had some great presentations from teens, and strong question and answer sessions.

Even though we all considered it a good start, a few tweaks were needed. We found ourselves stumbling over exactly how to explain what “The Hive” was, and aimed to find ways to streamline our messaging. We added in a goal, aiming to specifically target teens 14-19 who didn’t know anything about Hive, and we added a long term goal of creating a core group of HYM youth who would, over time and through experience, collaborate and form social ties with each other, and act as Hive Ambassadors as they supported the implementation of the HYM initiative. On this point, we aimed to bring in a stronger “youth voice” at the next meet-up, both in the planning and implementation of the HYM. Out of this reflection we also ended up identifying the key roles that could make a HYM a success. These included an adult and a youth emcee, a workshop facilitator (this could be co-facilitated by adults and teens initially, with teens stepping into the role as their experience progressed), educator/observers from partner organizations, a Hive brokering coordinator, an event manager, and youth documenters (i.e., photographers).

By the time the second HYM came around in late January we felt like we had a good plan in place, with all bases covered, but you really never know in these situations. However, from the moment that Radio Rookies kicked off the event with an excellent podcasting workshop, asking teens to talk to each other about their first crush, everything went perfectly. There was great teen engagement in the workshops and the presentations, with lots of conversations and back and forth between the teens who attended. The Kickflip Program, Brooklyn College Arts Lab, and young CRC filmmaker Tay Pugh gave excellent, well-received presentations. Though there is obviously room to improve, this second HYM was again a strong proof of concept, building effectively on the first event.

Outside of the programmatic value of the HYM, for me this has been a demonstration in practice of the value of Hive more broadly. Those people that I didn’t know when I sat down at the workshop last summer, I now consider my colleagues. As well as having observed how the Hive can add value to programming for teens across NYC, I have come to know what the Hive is myself, through the experience of participating, by doing. Maybe the Hive isn’t something you can explain in a sound bite? Just like learning to design a game, or making a video, maybe the Hive is an experience?


After two successful implementations of the model, one at Beam Center and another at the Hamilton Fish Recreation Center, we are ready to have a third one at Global Kids. We have seen the idea realized and made changes along the way. From idea, to design, to implementation, we have been testing a model that is shaping up to be successful. We hope that creating a space for young people to come together and recognize the opportunities available to them in the rich environment that is the Hive Learning Network continues to develop and becomes an on going event.

For another perspective by Chanell Hasty, read this

Middle Schoolers Showcase Games for Change 

This winter has been a busy one for the middle school game designers at Global Neighborhood Secondary School and New Directions Secondary School! Students finished using the tool Gamestar Mechanic to create games about a range of topics important to them -- from bullying to drug abuse, animal abuse, and pollution -- and then invited friends, teachers, Global Kids staff, and administrators to playtest them at an end-of-year celebration.


Middle school “MC’s” conquered their fear of public speaking and introduced the design process they followed in order to create the games. They detailed how students brainstormed, prototyped, and used Gamestar Mechanic and the iterative cycle to bring their games to life.




At Winter Playtest Expo events, Global Kids youth game designers at NDSS and GNSS asked their parents, teachers, GK facilitators, and friends for feedback on the games they created. 


In the new year, students in the game design clubs at these schools have begun to think like computer programmers. They have been diving into the tool Scratch to complete simple programs and animations, learning the basics of coding along the way.


In keeping with Global Kids’ mission to integrate global issues and ideas into the curriculum, students have been exposed to world current events and have expressed interest in creating a game this semester about women’s education/the kidnappings in Nigeria, the Ebola virus public health crisis, or the detention of undocumented immigrants in the United States.


In the coming weeks, youth will decide which topics to focus on, and the design process will begin all over again!


Special thanks to New Directions Secondary School, Global Neighborhood Secondary School, and the Global Kids trainers on-site at these schools.