Local Tech Heroes Summer Camp 2017

Local Tech Heroes just wrapped up its first of three Summer STEM Camps in cooperation with Boys and Girls Clubs of Columbus, the first location being their new J. Ashburn Jr. Clubhouse. For five days, more than 40 students participated in ‘Hero Challenges’ by learning and applying new ‘Super Powers’ in unique ways. Using everything from 3D printing to Virtual Reality and coding, the students in Columbus’ Hilltop neighborhood teamed with local teachers and businesses to unlock their potential and use technology to help their community solve some of its trickiest problems.

The mission of the LTH Summer Program – which is entirely free to students and their families – is to bring together local businesses, local students, and emerging technologies in creative ways to solve problems in the immediate community. By targeting  areas in Columbus that don’t have strong computer science programs, our hope is to give our students the opportunity to develop in-demand skills in areas of technology. Once given the proper access and structure, every student is capable of finding their potential in exciting new fields such as robotics, coding, and virtual reality. In this 5 part Summer STEM camp series, we’ll go over each day and examine how students applied their new Super Powers to helping people and solving problems.

Day 1: 3D Printing to Grow Healthy Food

The first day started off with Hero Challenge One: design and 3D print a container that can be used to germinate seeds and ultimately grow healthy food. Of course, the students needed their first Super Power to complete this challenge, so we set out to learn 3D printing to help with our inventions.

After a quick review of botany basics, students began brainstorming the best way to meet the challenge by sketching their ideas on paper and building prototypes from cardboard and plastic cups, an important first step of the design process. Once a final prototype was approved by their team, students worked with mentors, such as LTH cofounder and Industrial Designer Will Nickley, to build their creation in CAD using a computer and free, online Tinkercad software.

Students sketching, prototyping, and building their ideas in CAD with cofounder Will Nickley.


A student shows off the prototype and  CAD model he built.

Once the CAD models were built it was time to get the Lulzbot 3D printers involved. The students learned all about the 3D printers, the special, corn-based PLA material it uses, and the software that runs everything. Local Columbus 3D printer specialist IC3D agreed to not only sponsor the 3D printing material, but also print many of the students’ inventions!

Students watch in amazement as the 3D printer quickly builds their inventions.

The final step after the 3D printing process completed was to test the finished creation and start growing healthy food around the Clubhouse. Students learned how to use recycled coffee grounds from local business Mission Coffee to plant their various vegetables and herbs. Several of the students’ containers catch excess water to prevent root rot. Each planter took a different approach to solving design challenges, and seeing the student’s unique and creative approaches was inspiring to parents, staff members and other students.

The finished 3D printed planters ready for healthy food!

3D Printing Super Power Achieved

Using their imaginations, sketching, prototyping, 3D modeling and 3D printing, students realized their ideas in a single afternoon – a Super Power indeed, and also the first step to obtaining official ‘Local Tech Hero’ status by the end of the week!

Students earned their first Super Power Badge in 3D Printing

(Coming Soon – Part 2: Using Virtual Reality and 3D Scanning to improve Gardening accessibility for people with limited mobility)


LTH Camp Day 1 at J. Ashburn Jr.
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