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Global Kids takes part in littleBits Global Makeathon 

 

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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.

 

Ebba's Take - That Could Be Your Sister 

For ten weeks, Global Kids is hosting intern Ebba Minas, an 18-year-old from Stockholm, Sweden on a gap year between secondary school and university. She had the opportunity to participate in That Could Be Your Sister, last week's event co-hosted with Radio Rookies, during which youth designed digital tools to combat sexual cyberbullying. Below, read her impressions of the event and her comparisons between conversations around "slut-shaming" in the US and Sweden.

 

Photo by Yasmeen Khan of SchoolBook
GK intern Ebba Minas (on the right) prepping for her group's presentation.
Photo by Yasmeen Khan of SchoolBook, see article.

 

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!

 

Playing for Keeps - Session 2 

The students of the second Playing for Keeps session walked in and sat down quietly. Most of them did not know each other, but all it took was one question - "So, what games do you all play?" - for them to break out into animated chatter.

 

After the great success of the first Playing for Keeps session, we were excited to welcome the students of the second session - and they did not disappoint. The students came in with new ideas, genuine curiosity, and infectious enthusiasm. Using MIT's game design platform Scratch, the students were able to create some truly creative and entertaining games based on important issues that affect us today. 

 

Hard at work on their games!

 

Of course, to design a game, we had to start at the basics. Like Session 1, we began by challenging the students to creating a representation of a movie out of Legos pieces. This activity helped them start thinking creatively about the characters, story, space, and how to deal with limited resources (in this case, Legos pieces and time). They were able to create some amazing things with just Legos pieces - including a surprisingly realistic clownfish from Finding Nemo, and a whole scene from Monsters, Inc., complete with multiple characters. 

 

Playing for Keeps Session 1 

Students at SIS were joined by middle schoolers from around the city to take part in Global Kids' signature "Playing for Keeps" program. They used MIT's open source video game design software, Scratch, to program and design games about environmental issues ranging from pollution ("Pollution's no Illusion" by Jayme, Julisa and Summit) to habitats (Wildlife Takeback by Robert, Gabriel and Patrick). It was an exhilarating week of hands-on activities that exposed students to the elements of a game and content about population density supplied by NASA. All throughout, students kept blogs documenting their learning.

 

Students completing a Lego Challenge where they have to create an immage based on a story that they were assigned.

 

On the first day of the program, after a warm-up that involved representing movie plots with legos, the students learned to name the core elements of a game by identifying those elements in classic games such as Rock, Paper, Scissors and soccer. They chose specific elements of a game that they wanted to change, and noticed how their jams affected game play. They were also introduced to Scratch and learned basic functions using the Scratch Program.