Student disects her robot to make adjustments

Located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media program provides comprehensive media literacy education to young people and adults through innovative classes, hands-on workshops, and outreach.

During her five years at Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media Jess taught classes in video editing, filmmaking, stop-motion animation, video game design, and robotics. Though ages ranged from students as young as 5 to as old as 80 she found herself enjoying working with the 5-7 age range the best. Children of that age are incredibly creative and passionate, never has she heard one say "But that's impossible!"

Through Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media, Jess had the rare opportunity to work with students in many different settings. Though most of classes were held on-site during out-of-school hours, many school and community groups would visit on field trips. Jess also worked within both public and private school districts when they could not come to Filmmakers or wanted their students to create a multi-media project that would span longer than one day.

Recycled Robots

Tired of the usual media class where students were simply sent home with a dvd of their work Jess designed Recycled Robots, a three day summer camp that merged the digital world with more traditional studio arts. Students learned important programming and robotic skills and vocabulary as they created their own unique robots. The week culminated in a Bot Show where students showed off their robots and explained what made them tick.

A demonstration of robots created by students in Recycled Robots camp for students ages 8 to 10. Working in pairs students created these unique creatures by collaborating and incorporating ideas and design elements from an exquisite corpse drawing they did earlier in the day. All robots were designed, created, and programmed by students using recycled materials and the Hummingbird Robotics Kit.


Jess joined the Pittsburgh Filmmakers Youth Media team in 2009 as an assistant for animation classes and quickly worked her way up to a Teaching Artist. Throughout the years she taught students how to stop-motion animate clay, objects, paper, Legos, and drawings, always teaching, "Animators Make the Impossible Possible!"

Polymer Clay Turtle and Alien Twin brothers work together to animate.