New Small Factory Membership Program Offers More Learning Opportunities

New Small Factory Membership Program Offers More Learning Opportunities

At Small Factory, a new school year means we’re in full swing with new classes, and even a new membership program! The membership program is back in action after some revamping, and is a great way for students to explore different medias and technologies while giving them access to today’s best software and technology programs.

05-RobticsGirl“This year, there’s going to be a ton of different projects and things that kids can work on weekly,” said Chris Dudick, owner of Small Factory. “They’ll definitely be able to figure out if they’re more the engineering type, the art type, or the coding type. Kids will have the chance to experience all types of projects that we offer to figure out what they really want to learn about and go into with more depth.”

Small Factory’s new program is introducing a Proprietary Online E-Learning Portal with a rewards-based point system, five weekly STEAM-based projects, parental notification of completed projects, student journals and at-home use so students can log in at home and continue the work they started at Small Factory.

“There were a lot of things we learned from the first year, and access to many 03VideoGamedifferent projects at the same time is something we want to offer,” said Dudick. “We also realized that a point system and parent notification are all things that were interesting to our members last year, and we were able to develop an online platform that would give kids access to all the different things that we’re doing in the studio, but that they would also be able to do it at home as well.”

Small Factory is always encouraging kids to explore passions and find new ways to learn.

“If you’re an athlete, you have baseball season or basketball season, but if you’re into tech and media, there’s no season for that. Kids need access to all of these things to grow and learn, and that’s what we give them,” said Dudick.

The membership program will give students access to STEAM-based projects and classes after school at the two campuses — Fair Haven and Manalapan. Teaching projects will be based around coding, art and engineering.

Classes start the week of September 12, and will run Monday through Friday from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.

Small Factory Productions MembershipThe membership program is still the same low price of $50 per month, with a $20 drop-in fee for non-members. Small Factory will be offering students a chance to sign up for a free three-week trial from Sept. 12 to Sept. 30, five days a week from 4:15 to 5:30 p.m.

The first 50 (25 in Fair Haven and 25 in Manalapan) students to email smallfactory@mysmallfactory.com will get a free trial membership. Please be sure to specify which location you are interested in.

Other classes being offered this fall include 3D Printing, 3D Video Game Animation, App Making, Minecraft Programming, Voice Acting and more. To see a preview of the fall schedule, click here.

Small Factory Classes presented by VI at Bell Works

Small Factory Classes presented by VI at Bell Works

Video Game and Animation

pc buildingVideo Game Design:

In this class students learn the basics and fundamentals of game making while creating a fun platform style game. Students learn to make sprite and how to convert them into objects to program them. They program their characters to move around, jump and crush bad guys. One the foundation of their game has been established, they expand on it by making power ups and multiple levels of increasing difficulty. Once the class is over, students games will be upload to our website where they will be able to access and play their games.

Wednesdays (8/3, 8/10, 8/17 & 8/24)
4:15 – 5:30 (ages 6+) REGISTER
5:45 – 7:00 (ages 8+) REGISTER

animation edit 640x480Animation:

Students will explore the basics of animation production. The basic techniques of setting up a character, using frames, tweening and onion skin will be learned. The final product will be a basic animation created entirely by the student.

Wednesdays (8/3, 8/10, 8/17 & 8/24)
4:15 – 5:30 (ages 6+) REGISTER
5:45 – 7:00 (ages 8+) REGISTER

*USE PROMO CODE VI15 to receive a 15% off discount!*

Location: Bell Works
101 Crawfords Corner
Holmdel, NJ 07733

 

Practical Learning at Small Factory Prepares Kids for Real World

Practical Learning at Small Factory Prepares Kids for Real World

Kids at Small Factory are learning practical skills that will help them prepare for the real world. Andon M., Matthew S., and Hannah B. developed a website for Umberto’s Pizzeria in Fair Haven, NJ and put their Small Factory learning to use.

The pizza restaurant knew they needed a new website, so they decided to give the 12 year olds in the Small Factory Web Programming class the opportunity to test their coding and design skills.

“Our website was five years old and we are making some updates and changes to the restaurant so we knew we needed a fresh site,” said Mary Fabbri, owner of Umberto’s Pizzeria.

Eric Whitehead, a teacher at Small Factory, wanted to give his students a chance at a more practical application for their HTML, CSS, JavaScript and other website design skills. web_prog2

“I wanted to have more of a practical application so they felt they really built something significant,” said Eric.

Eric is a self-taught web designer who built his first site in 1998. He has a degree in teaching, but after he graduated he wanted to pursue a career in IT/web development. Teaching at Small Factory lets him blend the two things he enjoys the most.

“I can really relate to these kids because they have the same interest I had almost 20 years,” said Eric.

Eric developed most of the bare bones template for Umberto’s new site. The students then added their own ideas and code on top of that. All graphics were created in the class by the students. Special features like the photos section, the Yelp, Facebook and Google Maps API integration were all done by the students.

“It’s amazing what these kids can do,” said Mary. “They came up with so many creative ideas that we hadn’t even thought of!”

Students used Sublime Text as their code editor and Firefox and Firebug to work through issues. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator were used for all graphics, and images were provided by Umberto’s. All photo editing was done by the students.

Umberto’s has been in business since 1984 and is run by the Fabbri family. The new website isn’t live yet, but once their current domain is transferred it will be ready for business, and Andon, Matthew and Hannah will have their first addition to their resumes.

After all, “the best way to learn is by doing,” said Eric.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Mary. “They have such a fresh eye and they are so creative.”

Small Factory Web Programming students are available for website design for local businesses. If your business is interested, contact Small Factory at 732-212-1088.

Parents, interested in giving your children the practical skills needed to solve everyday problems? Sign them up for the many Small Factory classes that help teach life skills, including Web Programming, Video Game Design, Robotics and Engineering, Film and Video and Theater. Find out more here.

TEDxNavesink Provides Platform to Introduce Social Skills Software

TEDxNavesink Provides Platform to Introduce Social Skills Software

On a stage in front of 750 people, Chris Dudick and Bernadette Mullen brought their passion to life. Through the stories of parents with children who struggle to understand how to act and respond in social situations, the two educators demonstrated their software program aimed at making children feel more comfortable expressing emotions, communicating feelings, and talking about things that are difficult for them.

SiLAS, Socially Interactive Learning Avatar Software, is a software developed by Chris and using the curriculum Bernadette wrote that allows kids with social learning challenges to understand social skills through a curriculum-based learning program. The curriculum Bernadette developed was driven by her years of experience working as a speech-language pathologist. SiLAS uses video game controllers and headset microphones to control 2D cartoon avatars that have the ability to express emotions.

Chris and Bernadette demonstrated how SiLAS works at the annual TEDxNavesink conference. Their talk, “Autism, Avatars, and Alleviating Social Disorders,” took the audience deep into the world of social skills education and what it might be like to be a parent to a special learner.

“Having TEDxNavesink as a platform to spread the word about SiLAS really helped solidify our story — how and why it started,” said Chris. “Anytime that you can reflect back on why you started something and what you’re doing it’s a nice thing.”

TEDxNavesink, an independently-organized TED conference, was held April 9 at Monmouth University. The conference featured innovators and makers from across the country sharing their inspirations and passions.

“I wanted the audience to understand that there are organizations that can provide social skills training to children struggling with social skills learning,” said Bernadette. “There are new and innovative things coming out every day that can motivate a child to learn and use those social skills in real settings. You have to find the things that motivate your child the most and get them excited to learn.”

The pair opened their talk by quoting real fears and concerns of parents whose children are on the autism spectrum or have problems learning social skills. Hopelessness, concern about a lack of friends, expense of therapy, and experiencing marital issues as a result of raising a child with autism were all topics that parents of children with autism struggle with. The opening was relatable and touching, and by following the introduction with an actual demonstration of how SiLAS works using avatars, Chris and Bernadette’s talk became one of the most powerful of the TEDxNavesink conference.

“From our talk the audience could really grasp what kinds of things are happening in the field of autism education,” said Bernadette. “We’re teaching them so many things but we’re not teaching them how to take what they’ve learned and use those skills in the real world. I think for the audience our message was clear. We need to come up with new and exciting ways to teach social skills to kids with autism.”

Chris and Bernadette discussed how to introduce social skills learning to a new generation of tech-loving children. Their answer with SiLAS is to use that technology to their advantage and have the children become avatars. Students can practice new skills that may be difficult for them in reality in a virtual world where they feel more comfortable. The software records their skit and saves it as a movie file the student can watch and learn from again.

“We wanted to show people that there is technology out there that can help and be used in a social way for children on the spectrum,” said Chris. “There are tons of apps and programs where kids are very passive in their learning — old school books and curriculum — but that’s not connecting anymore. When you’re raised with a cell phone and a video game controller in your hands that’s how you learn and teaching has to adapt to that.”

The response from the TEDxNavesink talk has been tremendous. Both on a professional and personal level for Chris and Bernadette.

“Speaking at TEDxNavesink was the most amazing thing I’ve ever done,” said Bernadette. “The entire group has a desire to help other people present the best talk they can. I have learned so much about other people. I’ve learned things that are helping me professionally and privately that I wasn’t even looking for when I did this.

Chris and Bernadette have gotten SiLAS into a dozen schools and are participating in two different studies over the summer to help SiLAS gain momentum, including a study with researchers at Princeton University.

“We’re working on finding partnerships and alliances to help us get into schools,” said Chris.

Watch Chris and Bernadette’s TEDxNavesink video here.

For more information about SiLAS, visit http://silassolutions.com/.

Small Factory Productions Nominated for 2016 New York Emmy® Award

Small Factory Productions Nominated for 2016 New York Emmy Award

The studio was nominated for “If You Can See it, You Can Be It!”, a partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media

Small Factory Productions, a children’s studio located in Fair Haven, NJ, has been nominated for a 2016 New York Emmy Award from the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for the “If You Can See It, You Can Be It!” contest. Small Factory developed the contest in partnership with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media sponsored by the Friendship Train Foundation, to bring awareness to gender stereotypes in children’s media and entertainment. If You Can See It, You Can Be It Contest Winner

Chris Dudick, owner of Small Factory Productions, and Madeline Di Nonno, CEO of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, are executive producers of the cartoon.

“We’re thrilled to be nominated for a New York Emmy®,” said Dudick. “Children constantly amaze me. They see the world with a neutral eye. Superheroes come in wheelchairs. Girls explore the universe in rocket ships. The shy boy stands up to the bully. Our partnership with the Institute was a great fit for this contest.”

Students in grades 1-5 were invited to create original characters for an animated cartoon short film, and nine winners were selected to participate in a workshop held March 21-22, 2015 at Small Factory, where they drew and wrote their original animated cartoon short and song.

Winners included Julian Mattioli age 10 from Colts Neck, Stephen Makin age 10 from Rumson, Adele MacGregor age 7 from Oceanport, Quinn DeNunzio age 10 from Navesink, Gianna Cofone age 10 from Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media Contest WinnerAtlantic Highlands, Paige Jaenicke age 9 from Fair Haven, Emma Belletier age 10 from Avon-by-the-Sea, Ginger Felumero age 9 from Morganville, and Isabella Scott age 11 from Sea Bright.

According to the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, children’s programming is one of the most imbalanced media, with less than a third of all on screen speaking characters depicted as girls or women. Negative gender stereotypes can greatly influence the choices and opinions children make in their lives. Organizers believe this project and the work of the children involved will show them the possibilities of a more diverse media landscape with different characters that can exist not only in our imaginary worlds, but in their real lives.

“We’re very proud of our partnership with Chris Dudick and Small Factory,” said Di Nonno. If You Can See It, You Can Be It cartoon characters“We’re so delighted to receive the recognition of our unique program to engage and education children on how to use a gender and diversity lens when creating and watching media. We look forward to continuing our program with Small Factory.”

Small Factory posted the final cartoon on their website and social platforms in April 2015. The video can be viewed on YouTube here. Curriculum is available for download for educators and parents across the country to share the cartoon’s message and inspire creativity blind to gender stereotypes. Click here to download the curriculum.

Photos from the “If You Can See It You Can Be It” contest can be viewed here.

The 59th Annual New York Emmy Award Gala will be held on Saturday, March 19, 2016, at the Marriott Marquis, Times Square.