Edtech – Taking the Makey-makey into the classroom

The Makey-makey is a wonderful little EdTech tool which I have barely scratched the surface on in terms of capability, but it has so much potential in the classroom.

Essentially, the makey makey is a little circuit board that you can rig up to take the role of your keyboard by completing a circuit, so anything you can do with your keyboard (or rather, specific keys on the keyboard) can be done with any object which can complete a circuit, like a piece of fruit, a cup of water, or a student.

This lends itself to all sorts of wonderful projects you can use to teach kids through inquiry. So far, I’ve used it mostly just to teach kids about simple circuits and conductive materials. I’d love to do more with it, but I’m very much limited by only having one actual device.

I use a very simple process. First, I plug in the makey-makey and open up the Piano Time app on my computer. I get all the students to circle me and then touch one of their noses to make a sound play. The kids instantly start all touching that same kid’s nose, trying to work out why they can’t make music. Then, some bright spark spots me holding the earth cable and we discuss the concept of a circuit, before experimenting with whole-class circuits, and using different materials to complete the circuit. Children ask questions throughout about what will work and my response is typically ‘I don’t know, let’s see.’

Then, I ask them to examine the makey-makey, drawing their attention to where the wires go in, before quickly unplugging them and asking the students to work together to create a circuit themselves with x item as a part of it.

After that, I tell the kids that they could actually use this to make a piano, which becomes their task.

Typically after that, the students draw and label a diagram about the makey-makey to explain how it would work to someone who has never seen one.

As I say, I’ve barely scratched the surface of what the device could do with a bit of simple programming in scratch, but if you’ve never tried the device in your class, I’d certainly recommend it.

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