Sunday, April 27, 2014

Makey Makey In The Classroom (Innovation series part 3)

To compliment our innovation unit, where we tried to answer the question, "What triggers innovation?" by creating our own innovation projects, our 4th grade class developed a side project where we used Makey Makey and Scratch.
If you're not familiar with Makey Makey, here is a quick intro video:

And here is the TED talk:

Makey Makey is a natural fit in our 4th grade class, because it bridges two concurrent units. The first is a unit on electricity and magnetism. The second is a unit on technology and innovation. Since Makey Makey relies on completing a circuit using conductors, it's a great extension for exploring completed circuits and the use of conductors. Used in conjunction with Squishy Circuits, it can really expand students' concept of conductors. But because Makey Makey blends the physical world with the virtual world, it's also a great way to explore innovation. 

I wanted my students to be invested in both the physical and the virtual world when they were designing their Makey Makey projects, so I had them design their virtual world using the Scratch programming environment. The virtual and physical worlds needed to be connected in some way as well, so there had to be some thought about how to connect these two types of spaces. 

As an example, I hooked up Makey Makey to a banana, and made a quick digital story in Scratch about a banana. When I poked the banana with my finger, the banana in Scratch would complain about a tummy ache. 

Here are a couple of ways the students used Makey Makey and Scratch:

This student used a cup of water to move his programmed fish.

This student attached Makey Makey to his led pencil drawings.

This student made an alarm clock. The idea was that when you are sleeping and roll over on a conductive pillow the alarm clock would wake you up. To simulate the pillow, he wrapped it in tinfoil.

This student touches a wall to change the backgrounds on her program.

I think Makey Makey shows real creative and academic potential in the classroom. But it's new. And with anything that's new, it'll take a little bit of time to sort out the kinks. Not from the tool itself, but from the teaching of the tool.

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