Global Kids takes part in littleBits Global Makeathon 




At the Global Kids headquarters this past Saturday September 14th, a group of kids from different parts of New York City and different ages gathered to take part in the littleBits Global Makeathon 2013.  According to the littleBits webiste, the Global Makeathon was "the world's largest physical and virtual littleBits workshop. We are bringing together makers from around the world for one day to bring their own cities to life. Join us, with your Bits, your crafts, and your tools and Make Something that Does Something!" 


Young kids who came to take part on the challenge started the day talking about the things they enjoyed the most about living in New York City. The theme of the makeathon was "Bring Your City to Life" and the kids were excited to start thinking about how they could represent their city in the challenge. After introductions from Ayah Bdeir to the challenge and a google hangout with makers from all around the world, the kids learned the basics of using little bits: that the color blue was for the power bits, pink for input, orange for wire, and green for output.


Combating Sexual Cyberbullying with That Could Be Your Sister 

Twenty-five youth from around New York City. A problem to solve through the design of a digital tool. Cash prizes at stake.


That was the set up for yesterday's That Could Be Your Sister Design Challenge, held at the Brooklyn Public Library by Global Kids and WNYC's Radio Rookies. The youth – many of them affiliated with BPL's T4 program and several from GK and Rookies – listened intently as 17-year-old Temitayo Fagbenle played a radio story that she had reported last year about "slut-shaming" on online social networks, or as she and producer Courtney Stein wrote, "using photos and videos to turn a girl's private life inside out." She challenged the group to propose an idea for a digital tool that could be mobilized to support victims, raise awareness or collect data about the issue.


Hive NYC's Julia Vallera presented a menu of digital tools for students to consider integrating into their designs; from apps to text messaging campaigns. "There are no limitations" she said. "Think outside the box." With that, the students were off in their groups -- drawing, writing, and brainstorming their way to digital solutions.



During the presentations, the four judges -- Jess Klein and Atul Varma from Mozilla, Erica Doyle, Assistant Principal at Vanguard High School, and Jasmine Hood from Common Sense Media – were treated to five stellar pitches for new digital tools. One group dreamed up a website that followed a human body metaphor - the mouth would link to a section to help victims speak out, the ear to a section for listening to testimonials, and "tears" collecting at the bottom of the screen would contain words of inspiration and support from the community. Another group decided to place QR codes in locations that teens frequent the most in order to direct them to the campaign website. The “Insert Title Here” group’s proposal included a “choose your own adventure” game that would guide players to make choices in scenarios of sexual cyberbullying. The "Tech Geeks" team won with their idea for an informational website and an app that victims would be able to use to report offensive photos and seek the support of specialists.


5/6 of the members of the winning team, "Tech Geeks."


While everybody couldn’t walk away from the competition with a gift card, the rewards of the program went far beyond. In an email to GK’s Juan Rubio, one student wrote about how he’d love to continue learning Photoshop, something he began to explore during Thursday’s event:


“Gracias por toda su ayuda y aunque no ganamos, ganamos porque aprendimos mucho de cyberbullying y también de tecnología. (Thank you for all of your help, and even though we didn’t win, we won, because we learned a lot about cyberbullying and also about technology).


Thank you to Project:Connect and our panel of judges, Brooklyn Public Library’s Jen Thompson and Jackson Gomes, and WNYC Radio Rookies’ Kaari Pitkin, Courtney Stein and Sanda Htyte.


For more coverage of the event, check out SchoolBook!


Freelance producer Karen Duffin also produced a radio piece about the event, featuring OLP's very own Jack Martin and Juan Rubio!


Simulating Inequality - P4K Gamers at Hungercraft 2.0 


What happens when resources are unequally distributed? Do citizens learn to cooperate and trade? Or is violence inevitable?


Those were some of the questions pondered by Global Kids’ Playing For Keeps youth leaders at Hungercraft 2.0, an event at the Main Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library on Saturday, March 30. Using a special world created by Minecraft Edu inspired by the popular books The Hunger Games, they faced off against the teens in Brooklyn Public Library’s T4 program (Today’s Teens, Tomorrow’s Techies).

Jack Martin Joins Global Kids! 

GK is pleased to introduce a new member of the GK Family! Jack Martin joins us as Associate Director of the Online Leadership Program after many years of directing programs at the New York Public Library. At the Library, he partnered with GK to create NYC Haunts, our geolocative mobile gaming program. Jack also has an extensive background in theatre, the arts, technology, science, and dance. Welcome Jack!


I'm Leaving GK and What You Can Do About It 

After a dozen years at Global Kids, the majority directing our Online Leadership Program, I would like to announce that it is time for me to move on. I am sad to be leaving this incredible organization, the youth we serve, and the staff with whom I have had the privilege of doing such ground-breaking work.


I will be embarking on a new adventure, as the Associate Director for Digital Learning in the Education Department of the American Museum of Natural History.


Because Global Kids has meant so much to me, I would like to ask your help as I plan to transition, in three specific ways:

  • Comment on the 12 key lessons I have learned while working at GK.
  • Help me see that work continue to flourish.
  • Promote the search for my replacement.


Help 1: 12 Lessons After 12 Years

After considerable thought, I think I can summarize 12 key lessons I learned over my time at Global Kids, lessons about digital media in a youth development and global education context. To read explanations of each of the lessons (and respond through the comment section) please visit here.


12 Lessons After 12 Years 

A few weeks ago I completed my 12th year at Global Kids, the majority as the Director of our Online Leadership Program. I recently announced that at the end of the month I will be leaving, to take on a new position at the American Museum of Natural History. My time at GK has been a continuing education program beyond my wildest dreams. As I prepare for the upcoming transition, I wondered if I could take this opportunity to see if I could summarize my key take-aways. What I came up with are lessons I am sure to carry with me but, more importantly, speaks to the importance for this work to continue at Global Kids.

1. Youth Care. Youth care about their lives, the worlds around them, and what they can do to better both. Some youth I met knew it. Others had forgotten. But in my 12 years at GK I have never met a youth who lacked the capacity for passionate engagement, given the proper context and support. I learned none should underestimate youth from low performing or at risk communities.


Youth Virtual Video On Rio+20  

In just two weeks' time, Global Kids Youth Leaders created a machinima film about the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, which took place in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012.  Youth were part of our Virtual Video Project (VVP) and learned skills in researching, script writing, storyboarding, voice acting, filming, and virtual world effects. 


In partnership with the Brooklyn Public Library (BPL), youth were able to premiere the film to a group of teens from BPL in a fantastic end-of-program presentation.  Their hope is that through the film, more youth will learn about the global effects of climate change and be encouraged to take action.  Check our the final video below! 



Read more posts about VVP here.

Collaborating with GK DML Summer Fellow 

During this summer’s Virtual Video Project (VVP), I had the chance to co-facilitate the program with a Global Kids Digital Media and Learning Summer Fellow funded by the National Summer Learning Association. The Fellow helped us run VVP, an intensive two week program that supported GK Youth Leaders to address global and social issues through digital media production. In the end, youth made a film about global health effects due to climate change, as a continuation of GK’s involvement in the Rio+20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development.


The Fellow collaborated with us to plan the curriculum and connect it to Common Core Standards, co-facilitated all of the sessions, actively blogged (here and here), and also participated in post-program debriefing sessions and presentations. Walleska, a full-time Global History and Special Education teacher, was chosen as the Fellow to work with GK. Both her background working with underserved youth and her experience traveling abroad as a Fulbright volunteer, made her a great fit.


VVP Wrap-Up on Badges 

Last week, our first group of GK Youth leaders earned badges that we’ve been developing over the past few months.  It was exciting to come out of the development phase and actually see our youth beta test GK’s BadgeStack page.  These youth were part of a 2-week intensive summer program called the Virtual Video Project (VVP), where they made a short machinima film about global health effects due to climate change.


VVP and the Common Core Standards 



The Virtual Video Project has come to an end and I am so proud of the work we have accomplished. I would like to extend well-deserved congratulations to the youth and facilitators involved in this extraordinary summer learning program.


Throughout the program, we focused on skills that are transferrable to youth’s future career aspirations. These skills include public speaking, collaborating with peers to achieve a common goal, and supporting arguments and opinions with reputable sources. In addition, we assisted youth in working in creative capacities, such as using their imaginations to create an original storyline and using Second Life and digital media to bring this story to life.


In an effort to process through the work we have done, we asked youth guiding questions about their experiences with VVP. I would like to share of few of these responses:



“My participation in VVP has helped improved my research skills, my confidence and my global awareness. These skills will help me with my future goals by researching I can learn more about my options, the confidence will help me become more assertive and reach for want I want to achieve in life.” – Keisha