Makey Makey Magic

May 12th, 2014 | Posted by AlwaysComputing in Lesson Ideas

This week I was lucky enough to arrive at work and find a box of 5 Makey Makey sets sitting on my desk waiting for me. Obviously this was VERY exciting, and all my other plans for the day were instantly thrown out of the window. Within an hour I had made myself a little Pacman controller (very rock and roll). Within 2 hours year 6 had made themselves a game-pad out of card and staples to work with Kodu. And within 4 hours a group of year 3 pupils had made some amazing musical art. The creativity in my room  was amazing.



After a day like that I HAD to take the box home and tinker in my office for a few hours (much to my wife’s annoyance!). I spent some time looking online at what others had done with the Makey Makey boards and took inspiration from fruit! I made myself a wonderful working piano from grapes! Really simple to do, and it looked great. I started off with the simple Piano app on the MakeyMakey website and a hand full of the fruit!
I began by connecting the board to my computer, plug-in and go, no need for drivers or installation. Then connecting my crocodile clips to the corresponding places on the Makey Makey board. Before finally attaching the opposite end of the clip to the grapes. The key to making the board work is having a grounding wire. You need to be holding this so that you complete a circuit when you touch the fruit. I hope my little diagram explain this better than I just did, and yes this is the scrappy plan I did before putting it all together! The Makey Makey board is essentially a keyboard override for your computer. Anything you can get your keyboard to do with an app or website can be done on the Makey Makey board. When you complete the circuit the board tells your computer you have pressed the key. Easy.  I could have made this much more advanced by adding a whole bunch of grapes (pun intended) to create my own full piano. If only I knew how to play a tune on it!

When working with the children at school I have been starting off with the app on my screen rather than the tech in my hand. Whether it’s downloading something from the MakeyMakey website, or building one for myself on Scratch. You need to have the software for the hardware to work on! This is something that can be great to do with kids. With year 3 I gave them the musical app, they had to come up with the art work to connect the board to. To challenge why KS2 pupils a bit more, or to begin with my Digital Leaders, I plan on getting them to build their own musical sound effects using Scratch.

Relatively cheap technology like this really can inspire both children and adults with the coming changes in the curriculum, my pupils spent a whole day programming without even realising it! If you have used the MakeyMakey boards, or are planning on, please get in touch and share your creations. Happy Computing!

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