We spent a week using the MaKey MaKey and Scratch to create interactive instruments and controllers. The MaKey MaKey is a kit that let’s you interact directly with your computer to control the keyboard and mouse. The week was popular with students, and in 5 days they learned the concept of circuits, programming, and made some cool things! Students had an hour and a half of class per day, and it was structured as follows:
Day 1 -Introduction -We started with a class activity: making a human orchestra, then watched inspiring films (we watched the kickstarter film and a film of music examples), unboxing the MaKe MaKey (most students jumped straight into building circuits using the well documented instructions), introduction to Scratch
Day 2 -More inspiring film watching, more Scratch, making paper piano.
Day 3 -Inspiring film watching (again), making your own instrument or controller.
Day 4 -Continuing making instruments and controllers
Day 5 -Finishing instruments and controllers, and presenting work to the group.
At the end of a week making circuits with the MaKey MaKey, one of our 4th Grade middle school students made an interesting observation that I thought I would share. Yareley, who is an excellent maker and came to everyday of the 5 week camp, saw a box of e-waste by the classroom door that was going to be recycled. She picked up a hacked fragment of a mother board, and pointed to it, “Ms Becca, when you said we were going to be working on electronics this week, I though you meant we’d be doing something hard like this”.
She was pointing at the microchip, and she was right: it did look like something “hard”, foreign to everyday vocabulary of things. Probably, Yaraley had seen many of these in her 9 years, in fact, these “hard” things (i.e. microchips) are part of her everyday life in most electronic devises she uses on a daily basis.
She continued: “but actually it was not that hard at all, and quite fun”. She was referring to the week of programming in Scratch and using MaKey MaKey pins to create circuits.
She was holding a MaKey Makey in her hand, as she was so excited about them that she wanted to borrow one to play with over the weekend. I asked her to look at the MaKey MaKey and turn it over. She did. The back was almost identical to the hacked up circuit board she had pointed to moments before. She smiled with pride, “Oh! It is hard!”.