Makey Makey: Getting creative with keys
It was around this time last year, when assessing and evaluating the Computing Curriculum for my school, that I made a conscious decision to incorporate more physical computing for pupils.
This was in part due to gaps in their assessment profiles and also to fulfil my wish to increase the creativity within my lessons.
With limited resources and an ever-tightening budget, I knew that I would have to find a ‘kit’ with multiple uses, easy to set up and which could be shared within a class.
I recalled being enthralled by a banana piano and a simple search directed me to www.makeymakey.com. A Makey Makey is “an invention kit for the 21st century.
You can use it to turn everyday objects into keys for your computer”. It is simple to use and is a ‘plug and play’ device and a number of creative uses can be found on its website.
I chose to develop a unit of work, which used the Makey Makey kits, for my Year 5 classes. One of their topics (I try to ensure that Computing is taught through topic links) is ‘The Rainforest’ and this would support a #MakerSpace creation in the style of the classic ‘Operation’ game.
The concept of the game would be straightforward: pupils would create a background image linked to the topic, produce clay objects and connect a programme such as Scratch 2.0 https://scratch.mit.edu/ to the Makey Makey to create a response (similar to the buzzer in Operation). In order for both of my Year 5 classes to benefit from the physical computing opportunity, I built in both introductory sessions and also utilised the emulator from Scratch.
In delivering the unit pupils divided themselves into groups of three, used reverse engineering on a working version of ‘Operation’ before allocating roles and subsequent tasks.
Designers: responsible for producing the background and clay pieces for removal
Engineers: responsible for creating the ‘foil pockets’ for the clay pieces to sit in, create the copper tape circuit and the tweezers for piece removal
Programmers: responsible for creating the response on the laptops when clay piece removal was unsuccessful (ie a circuit was completed). Responses suggested by my pupils include a monkey eating a banana, a frog jumping into a pond and a lion catching its prey.
Although we have only 6 Makey Makey kits, the 18 groups across Year 5 will all have the opportunity to play their game with their classmates in real life as they will only have to connect 1 crocodile clip to the connector board. This can be implemented and their Scratch program running within minutes.
You may be concerned, as I originally was, that not all of the pupils would benefit from the physical element of using Makey Makey. Let me allay any fears of this as pupils shared each stage with their group members. They are also making use of Book Creator https://bookcreator.com/ on iPads to record each stage of their game construction.
Both the pupils and I are thoroughly enjoying this unit of work, expanding our knowledge week by week. The highlight for me to date though is probably all of the suggestions made by pupils as to how other classes may use the Makey Makey and the potential impact it may have on them.
Donna Shah – Computing Specialist at Newington Green Primary School