The Wire

Emoti-Con! 2014: The Good, the Great, and the Awesome!

The Sixth Annual Emoti-Con! NYC Youth Digital Media & Technology Challenge was held on June 14, and it was an amazing day for NYC makers, tinkerers, and inventors! Over 220 youth and educators from organizations including MOUSE, Global Kids, Girls Write Now, Iridescent, Eyebeam, Brooklyn Public Library, NYPL, City-As-School, and the Wildlife Conservation Society brought an incredible array of projects to the Bartos Forum at the Fifth Avenue New York Public Library.

A youth and adult MC team kicked off the day, and one of the first orders of business was Stack-A-Fact, a game invented by the A-Team (Emoti-Con!'s youth committee) to break the ice and set the tone for the day. In this game, teams competed to build the tallest cup tower, but could only add to their tower by answering questions and completing challenges.

We were also lucky to have an amazing array of keynote speakers for the day, including:

  • Tanya Mendendez and Matthew Burnett of Maker's Row, who discussed the importance of teamwork and finding the right project for your passions and skills;
  • Jessy Jo Gomez, a young game designer and co-founder of Win 2 Learn, who taught us that it's never too early to start following your passions; and
  • Anil Dash, co-founder of ThinkUp, who pointed out that success is often preceded by multiple failures, but that's how we learn and eventually find our way--as many great innovators and entrepreneurs of our time have done.

Check out the Emoti-Con! website to read more about these awesome speakers, and our incredible panel of competition judges!

Amazing MOUSE Projects!

P256Q Gateway Academy Squad
Students from P256Q's MOUSE Squad displayed and demonstrated their project Zip Me Up, a system they developed to help people with limited upper-body movement or amputated limbs to independently zip up their jackets, a little thing that most of us take for granted but that can have a huge impact on daily life! Not only did these intrepid Squad Members demonstrate how their invention is used, but they also 3D printed extra copies of one element of their design to hand out, and brought their MakerBot 3D printer to Emoti-Con! and continued printing them throughout the day!

The JHS 157 Stephen A. Halsey MOUSE Squad
Squad Members from the Halsey MOUSE Squad (our 2014 MOUSE Squad of the Year!) brought two fantastic projects to Emoti-Con! this year: Capturing Dinosaurs, a 3D printing project that came out of their participation in a digital archiving project at the American Museum of Natural History earlier this year, and Island Escape: Serious Games Made Real, a serious game that beat out the competition in a play-off against other games. Students 3D printed the playing pieces for Island Escape themselves, too!

The Baruch Tech Team
The Baruch Tech Team brought a whopping THREE remarkable projects to Emoti-Con! this year: the Self-Watering Plant System (a device that automatically waters your houseplants), Elle the Security Elephant (a plushie elephant toy designed to help lost children by playing either soothing music to calm the child, a siren to act as a distress signal, or a recording of the parent's voice providing contact information), and Photon Case (a fully functional cell phone case that can charge an iPhone battery with solar power). Photon Case was selected as a finalist and voted Crowd Favorite!

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MOUSE Corps
This year's MOUSE Corps group presented four amazing assistive technology projects, all designed to support users who have cerebral palsy. They partnered with members of United Cerebral Palsy to design and prototype Gap-Assist (a wheelchair attachment that makes it possible for users to safely get their wheelchair over obstacles like the gap between the subway platform and train), Able Racer (a specialized video game controller for users with limited motor skills due to cerebral palsy), Omni-Palette (a motorized paint pallet for painters with limited upper body mobility and strength), and ReMote Vac (a mobile vacuum cleaner that can be controlled entirely by remote).

In the end, Omni-Palette was awarded Best Pitch, and Gap-Assist won Most Innovative!
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MORE Winners!
In addition to the winning MOUSE projects, Eda T. from Girls Write Now won the award for Most Entertaining with her multimedia ebook Zombies on the Hudson River--an incredibly detailed short story that included text, GIFs, voice recordings, and social media. Payton F. and Keron H. from Global Kids won the awards for both Most Social Impact and Point of View with their serious game, End Violence in Wingate Park, a geolocative game that chronicles the gun violence in their school's neighborhood and looks for solutions. Awesome work, Eda, Payton, and Keron!
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Congratulations to all the amazing makers who joined us for Emoti-Con! this year! Hope to see YOU there next year!

MOUSE Squad of the Year 2014! And the Winners Are....

MOUSE Squad of the Year:

Halsey's MOUSE Squad from J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey in NYC.

and

Best New MOUSE Squad:

KMS Squeak Squad from Kuna Middle School in Idaho.

Let's Hear about Our Winners!

About Halsey's MOUSE Squad

The decision this year was very difficult, but ultimately we decided to name the MOUSE Squad of J.H.S. 157 Stephen A. Halsey in Queens, New York the 2014 MOUSE Squad of the Year. Halsey's MOUSE Squad has been together for over eight years, with a current lineup of 45 students who meet three times a week. Their coordinators give them a number of special projects to work on, and they are a key resource for the implementation of new technology in the school.

Halsey Squad Members have been frequent MicroProject contributors and have received recognition on the Wire for their work. They have gone above and beyond to create projects like board games from our Serious Games Certification and robots for our Garage Robotics Certification. Squad Members learn to use 3D printers and are a mentor school to schools in NYC that are new to 3D printing, and they even participated in a special opportunity to work with the American Museum of Natural History to 3D print models of dinosaurs. Halsey's MOUSE Squad Coordinators led a Digital Meet-Up about Maker Spaces and DIY technology and media projects to encourage other MOUSE Squads to take on more fun hands-on projects. You can even check out their website here.

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It is this combination of special projects and school support that makes us so pleased to declare Halsey's MOUSE Squad the MOUSE Squad of the Year for 2014!

About Kuna Middle School

Our Best New MOUSE Squad this year is Kuna Middle School in Kuna, Idaho. When Kuna Middle School received 800 Chromebooks as part of a grant, their MOUSE Squad stepped up to support all of them. Squeak Squad maintained and kept track of the Chromebooks so teachers could focus on teaching. Along with technical and organizational support, Squeak Squad students also helped with training. They were charged with the task of teaching their peers how to safely and respectfully communicate online with their new Chromebooks. After receiving training during MOUSE Squad meetings, Squad Members went back to class to present the training to their peers. This training model helped ALL students in the school take more ownership of the huge responsibility that comes along with communicating online. AND in their first year, the Squeak Squad closed nearly 250 cases in CaseTracker!

The Squeak Squad also went to the Idaho Education Technology Association annual conference to represent their school and talk about all the work that they do. One student even presented to the House and Senate Idaho State Education Committees! Talk about repping your Squad!

You can find out more about the Squeak Squad at Kuna Middle School on their own website! Congratulations on all your hard work, Squeak Squad -- it's easy to see why you are the Best New MOUSE Squad of 2014!

Honorable Mentions

It was incredibly hard to make these decisions. We got so many great submissions from so many great MOUSE Squads, and it was tough to choose only two winners. So with that in mind, we want to recognize some other Squads that are doing really great work.

Valley View Middle School, Pleasant Hill, CA

Valley View's MOUSE Squad keeps technology working in their middle school. We loved how inclusive their team is, featuring students from their general and special education programs. Valley View's Squad excels in professionalism, staying calm when tech questions get complicated. They are a great example of a Squad that provides amazing tech support to their school and outside community, with incredible student leadership.

Brooklyn College Community Partnership, Brooklyn, NY

The BCCP Electro Wizards are also tech masters, supporting technology at their site and engaging in a number of different high-tech projects. Whether learning hardware, software or networking, BCCP Squad Members are always working on something new. They also created their own opportunities for special projects, hosting a group of 45 9th grade students from iMentor to teach them team building exercises, and went in-depth with creative projects using websites like App Inventor and Coffeecup HTML Editor.

High School for Language and Diplomacy, New York, NY

The High School for Language and Diplomacy here in New York City also did a ton of great work. They wrote one of the most heartwarming essays we have read as an entry for the MOUSE Squad of the Year title, sharing how MOUSE Squad has pushed their Squad Members to dream bigger. They had an incredible amount of passion for using their maker skills to help improve the world and turn it into a better place to live.

Wow!

It’s amazing to see MOUSE Squad students making such a difference in their schools, communities and in their own lives. We wish we had more prizes to give out, but remember that, really, everyone in MOUSE Squad is a winner for all the great things you do every day!

We can’t wait for your submission next year! Keep being awesome, MOUSE Squad Nation!

Presenting the 2014 D.I.Y. Competition Winners!

This year we had so many incredible DIY submissions from squads across the country, deciding on just a few winners was very difficult. Thank you to everyone who submitted for your hard work and effort! And thank you for making this such a great year for our DIY Project. Without further ado, this year's winners are...

Grand Prize

The Grand Prize goes to the ACMSquad at American Canyon Middle School in American Canyon, CA. Their squad submitted a ton of stellar projects including How to Make Starburst Wrapper Bracelets, How to Make a Game Sprite and How to Present Confidently. We chose American Canyon because they created high quality projects that were also great teaching tools. They have step-by-step, clear instructions combined with interesting topics. Clearly, a ton of work was put into these. Thanks American Canyon Middle School for doing a great job.

Check out their videos below:

How to Make Starburst Wrapper Bracelets:

How to Make a Game Sprite:

How to Present Confidently:

Runners Up

This year we have three awesome runners up:

Our first runner up is Joeyp from Ida Price Charter School in San Jose, CA for his project How to Make a 3D Model in Blender 3D. Blender is a very complicated program that allows you to create 3D models, so Joeyp made a detailed PDF that explains how to use the software with step by step directions. So cool! Click here to check out the PDF.

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Our next runner up

Our next runner up is William Cullen Bryant High School in Queens, NY. They created a fantastic video that shows how to use Smart Synch software, which gives you control over an entire lab of computers. The video is complete with a great introduction and easy-to-follow instructions. Check it out here:

Our final runner up

Our final runner up is Orinda Intermediate School. They submitted a number of spectacular projects ranging from technical projects, like an introduction to the Python programming language and Quadratic Equations, to fun projects like How to Draw a Face. Check them out here:

How to Draw a Face

Introduction to Python

Quadratic Equations

But wait! There's even more awesome!

We also want to give a special shout out to Baruch College Campus High School who created projects that address social needs in their community. For instance, they created an awesome video on creating self watering plants, helping their school and the environment at the same time!

Shout out for Wins!

It's not too late to give out wins to your favorite DIY entries! Give wins for creativity, technical know-how or inspiration. We want to give a special shout out to some of our favorite wins. Thanks to Digital Me, gigapouch123, ArianaAR, and irenevazquez to giving out such great wins!

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Thanks again to everyone who created D.I.Y. projects!

It was incredible to see the many skills and interests of MOUSE Squads across the nation, so thank you for sharing with us! MOUSE Squads of America, we salute your amazing maker-bility!

Stay tuned to find out who will win MOUSE Squad of the Year very soon!