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MFAH Culture Hackathon

MFAH Culture Hackathon

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Program Summary

In August 2013, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH), will convene a two-day Culture Hackathon at the museum’s Glassell Junior School, located within the heart of Houston’s Museum District. During this exciting weekend event, area teens (ages 13–18) will collaborate with professional artists and technology experts to explore, imagine, and create through intensive, interest-driven, hands-on art and technology projects. Participants will utilize a specifically-designed museum badging system to validate and safely share their accomplishments from the hackathon across multiple platforms.

Six highly-skilled mentors/instructors will lead approximately eighty-five hackathon participants through projects of varying skill levels—including Circuit Bending, 3-D modeling, and Makerbot and CNC prototyping—over the course of the weekend. Teens will utilize a democratic, free-choice learning environment based on the immensely popular museum program hang@MFAH. A learning lab aimed at deepening young people’s engagement with art, technology, and their peer community, hang@MFAH provides ways for teens to experiment with interest-driven activities within a safe, fun, no-stress environment. The MFAH Culture Hackathon will build upon this model, engaging teens at all levels of ability and allowing participants to reconnect socially and become motivated for the upcoming school year.

Through the Project: Connect digital media + learning competition, the MFAH has the opportunity to advance teen-centric museum programming and establish a unique, culture-driven activity specifically catered to today’s 21st-century youth. The Culture Hackathon will provide Houston-area teens with access to a secure, certified online badging system, guidance on how to safely and effectively utilize the system, and an exciting end-of-summer event in which to kick-start learning skills needed to earn badges. The MFAH will encourage hackathon participants to return to hang@MFAH to expand these skills, level-up, and earn new badges; develop respectful digital citizenship habits; and utilize the museum and its collections as a center for lifelong learning.

Agenda

The MFAH Culture Hackathon will be held during a weekend in August (9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday) at the Glassell Junior School, which is centrally located within the Houston metropolitan area and near public transit. Two large, well-equipped studio spaces will be utilized for the project’s connected learning activities based on the HOMAGO (hanging out/messing around/geeking out) approach to teaching and learning.

The Culture Hackathon will use digital and analog tools to offer participants new skill-building opportunities through intuitive investigation while becoming creators of their own content. All participants will learn about the newly-developed MFAH badging system and set up a secure account with which to participate and earn badges. Teens will have a chance to explore projects ranging from Circuit Bending (music), computer numerical control (CNC) machine projects (to design and produce material-based prototypes), Arduino electronics platform and Makerbot projects (such as robot creation and manipulation), to 3-D modeling of MFAH galleries (to create iPad tours for teens), silkscreen printing, and other hands-on art and new media activities. These sessions, led by experienced mentors/instructors, will be offered simultaneously, enabling participants to customize their weekend using curiosity as a guide for experimentation. Upon arrival and sign-in each morning, participants will be allowed to self-select their preferred projects throughout the day. The mentors/instructors will provide fluid direction in order to help teens level-up in their skills based on individual experiences and previous projects. Giving participants the freedom of choice will provide valuable feedback on teen audience interests, inform the direction of future MFAH connected learning events and programming, and provide greater occasion to build connections between the teens and the mentors/instructors. Opportunities for socializing, sharing information and experiences, and providing response and criticism to the individual project sessions will be available throughout the weekend.

In addition to the projects offered inside the Glassell Junior School, the Houston Public Library will be onsite both days via their Express- HPL Community Engagement mobile computer-training lab. This "computer classroom on wheels" is a new public library concept to deliver access to technology and a number of service programs to high-need neighborhoods across the community. Services include literacy programs, computer and Internet safety training, homework help, enrichment activities, English as Second Language classes, and library card registration. The HPL Mobile Express is equipped with twelve desktop computers, ten laptops, Wi-Fi, and a large-screen smart board for instruction, thus greatly expanding the physical space and IT equipment offerings to participants during the Culture Hackathon weekend.

A food truck will be onsite to provide free meals and snacks to participants throughout each twelve-hour day, and water and non-caffeinated beverages will also be readily available.

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