The link to Barb’s Instructables post gives great directions on how you can use Scratch, pressure switches, and a Makey Makey to create an interactive display of book choices for students.
There are many potential students-centered uses for this idea, such as using student-created book blurbs or designing containers for the pressure switches and wires. Scratch has made it extremely easy in the last couple of years to program for use with Makey Makey, and Barb has a link to a video to help you out in her Instructables post.
Thanks to some inspiration on Twitter from Jessica Hirsch (@jhirschcusd), I thought it would be a neat idea to have my 4th grade gifted students try to create Makey Makey Operation games with shapes. (They are on a Geometry unit in their regular classrooms, so this seemed like a good time to try it.) As my classroom once again became a Disaster Zone Lab of Innovative Thinkers, I realized that I pretty much go through the same thought process every time we embark on these adventures. I tried to make a visual of it, which you can see below. I ran out of space at the end, so don’t assume that these things always end on a high note…
I have a huge obsession with creativity – and browsing Kickstarter fuels that craving. I am awed by the imagination of the inventors, and constantly berating myself for not coming up with any of these ideas.
So I do the next best thing.
I back them.
Because it takes imagination to recognize imagination, right? By throwing in my ten or twenty dollars I’m saying, “Well, I may not have dreamed up this awesome product, but at least I’m innovative enough to realize its cutting edge potential.”
Anyway, it doesn’t take a lot of imagination to see that Makey Makey Go is going to “go” far. Its predecessor, Makey Makey, was one of the 50 top-funded Kickstarter projects ever. I’ve mentioned Makey Makey on this blog several times, including recommending it as a great holiday gift. Jay Silver, the inventor of the original, is behind the new, portable version. You absolutely must see his suggestions for the many uses of Makey Makey Go, including several taking-selfies-in-odd-situations solutions.
I, of course, went with the $39 Pledge because:
1. You get a Bonus Tin
B. You get two Makey Makey Go Sticks – which means I can wear them as earrings.
It’s Friday and it’s December, which means that it’s time for another “Gifts for the Gifted” post!
I have posted about MaKey MaKey a few times, but I was surprised to look back and see that it didn’t make my Gifts for the Gifted series last year. This actually makes sense because I hadn’t used one yet at this time last year. Now that I’ve had a bit of experience with it and watched some of my students use it, I can definitely recommend it as a great gift.
You will need a computer with a USB port in order to use the MaKey MaKey. But the rest is up to your imagination. It looks intimidating, but the directions are a snap (I let my students hook it up and they had no problems).
I have a detailed description in this post. Basically, you can use anything that conducts electricity (including your tongue or your own skin) to power the MaKey MaKey. The most popular demonstrations use bananas. If you’re a bit stumped for other ideas, I’ve collected a few here to get your creative juices flowing. (Links updated on 10/27/2021)
Since many people are returning to school during the next couple of weeks, I thought I would re-visit and share some of last year’s more successful projects in case you want to try one. Monday’s post was on the surprise “You Matter” videos that I asked parents to make for their children last year. On Tuesday, I wrote about the Global Cardboard Challenge.
Almost exactly a year ago, I predicted the trends in education for the 2013-2014 school year. I was re-reading that post today, and laughed at my addition of maker studios almost as an afterthought at the end of my post. Anyone who has been reading education blogs and magazines will know that maker studios are becoming a huge trend, and that they are not limited to schools.
The truth is that many people are recognizing that there is a hunger in our youth to create and that the process of making is a deeper learning experience than regurgitating facts from a lecture.
There is not one right way to bring a maker studio into your school. Many schools are integrating them into their libraries or obsolete computer labs. Some are incorporating the design process into their entire curriculum. But, just like the Global Cardboard Challenge, you can still make a huge difference by starting small.
Last year, I realized that an empty classroom next door could be transformed into a maker studio. I applied for a grant from our school’s PTA. My GT classes named the room B.O.S.S. HQ (Building of Super Stuff Headquarters) and it basically became a testing ground for all of the new materials we purchased. You may not have the luxury of an empty room, but a station in your classroom would work just as well.
Some of the items we purchased for our space were:
We also had a green screen that had been given to the school.
I didn’t know how to use any of the above until my students helped me figure them out. Last year was really just time for us all to explore.
This year, I am starting an after-school Maker Club to involve more students than the ones in GT. One thing I learned from last year is that I need to narrow my focus. So, the Maker Club will have 4 main themes this year: Cardboard Challenge, Video Creation, Programming, and Electric Circuits.
In addition, the GT students who were exposed to materials last year will be challenged to find ways to incorporate them in our Cardboard Challenge and other projects throughout this year.
Eventually, I want B.O.S.S. HQ to be accessed by all students in the school, but I’m still working out the kinks on that.
My advice to a teacher just beginning would be the following:
Add a station to your classroom that involves creating. Little Bits are great, and the company offers educator discounts. Chibitronics and MaKey MaKey are also relatively inexpensive ways to start.
Make the mantra, “Think, Make, Improve” (from Invent to Learn) part of your classroom theme.
Celebrate the “growth mindset” so that students understand they will learn even when things don’t go as planned. Rosie Revere, Engineer is a great book to reinforce this.
When you are ready to “go bigger”, enlist the help of the community. You can find experts who can teach your students different skills, people who are willing to donate supplies (Donors Choose is great for this), and you might want to visit maker spaces and maker faires in your area for ideas on the type of inventory and organization you need.
If you search for “maker” on my blog, you will find many other posts I’ve done regarding this topic. You can also visit my Pinterest board of Maker Resources here. Two of my favorite online resources are Make magazine and Design Squad. The online Maker Camp from Google and Make also has lots of ideas.