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Makey Makey + Scratch

Hello everyone, this is Craig Tornquist, bringing you a tech tip on one of the Maker Kit tools available in many grade levels across the district, and it is ideal for use with 3rd grade and up. Makey Makey is a circuit board that students can connect to their computer via a USB cable that allows them to turn a plethora of objects or materials into a homemade controller for their computer. This presents the perfect opportunity for students to learn about circuitry, the flow of electricity, and material conductivity. This kit allows for your students to learn about how scientists build sensors to control objects we use in our everyday lives!

After your students plug the USB cable into their Chromebook, the Makey Makey begins receiving power. Connect a gator clip (any color will work, but I prefer gray) to the terminal along the bottom of the circuit board, labeled Earth. Connect another color wire and gator clip to one of the other functions on the Makey Makey (up, down, left, right, space, or click) which will allow you to control one of these functions on your computer when the circuit is closed. You can connect the other end of this wire to any object or material that will conduct electricity, such as a banana, a piece of aluminum foil, or even a part of a piece of paper that has been shaded with the graphite lead from a pencil! In order for the Makey Makey to activate the function on the computer, the student must “close the circuit” by touching the end of the gray gator clip and also touch the object with which the colored wire and clip is connected.

Here is a great example of a student using the Makey Makey to play a piano using only the Makey Makey, and a sheet of paper that has homemade keys prepared using only pencil lead.

The possibilities are endless with Makey Makey, and I’ve only scratched the surface. Speaking of Scratch; Scratch is a website where students can code their own interactive stories, games, or animations, and when combined with the Makey Makey, students can use premade blocks of code to play audio they have recorded. This would be a great way to bring in some of the curriculum students have been learning, with their Makey Makey being used to activate the different audio recordings they have made.

If you’re a visual learner and my explanation above doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I highly recommend you watch this short video explanation of using the Makey Makey with Scratch.

There is even a special integration made for Makey Makey available, allowing for even more control of your computer beyond the six functions on the front of the Makey Makey. There are more connections that can be made on the back that will unlock the more advanced functionality of the Makey Makey.

If you need any additional support with educational tools please feel free to contact your SS EdTech TOSA.

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