The following story comes from guest blogger and instructional coach Kristen Owen Beck. Kristen works with the Auburn Elementary School in Auburn California. We love this story because it shows the power of learning electronics with a classroom friendly tool like Makey Makey. Here is Kristen's original blog:
I recently introduced Makey Makeys to four of the classes ranging in grades first through fourth, click here to read this blog. When introducing the Makey Makey, I like to hand the student groups the Makey Makeys and allow them to explore and figure out what to do or not do. Students get to struggle and explore while their teacher and I watch and reply: "I don't know" and "You can figure it out" when they ask questions about what to do. As a result of this lesson, Auburn elementary students had a basic understanding of circuits.
Unrelated to sharing the Makey Makey with our students, one of our school sites has had sprinkler issues in their campus garden. The awesome principal, Aurora Westwood Thompson, who also has her contractors license and knows a thing or two about sprinkler solenoids, decided to come up with a great Makey Makey simulation for some of her students.
Aurora noticed that the Makey Makey alligator clips matched the colors of the wires to the school's sprinkler system solenoids (she substituted grey for blue). She also noticed that the Earth clip on the Makey Makey simulates the neutral wire leading from the irrigation timer to the solenoids controlling the valves.
So she realized that if she had the students set up the Makey Makey so that it would play the piano using the color coded alligator clips (grey for blue), the students would be able to go to the sprinkler system and wire up the solenoids for the different watering stations and get their garden watering system functional for the spring and summer months.
Aurora grouped the students with an eye towards forming inclusive teams. The first group had 4 fourth graders and the second group had 4 second and third graders. Both groups had students with a range of abilities and needs, including students who struggle academically or emotionally, as well as students labeled gifted. All of the students came to the table having used the Makey Makey with me at least one time.
Aurora and her students quickly used the Makey Makeys to simulate the system, then they took that understanding outside to apply it to real life. Each student team took turns wiring the solenoids and controlling the sections of sprinklers. It was an awesome lesson for the principal, Aurora, and her students, who now understand more about circuits and wiring, in a real life context.
Jed Stefanowicz is the new TOSA (teacher on special assignment) for the Natick Public Schools, in Natick Massachusetts. Before taking on his new role as technology coach, Jed was a third grade homeroom teacher for twenty two years. Jed also happens to be one of our wonderful Makey Makey Ambassadors. Jed first discovered the Makey Makey from our famous kickstarter (video) [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rfQqh7iCcOU] and immediately saw its potential. “We don’t want to make the mistake of buying tools and technology and having them sit in a closet,” Jed explained about his approach to educational technology. When giving talks on personalized or blended learning and technology integration, “Makey Makey is my go to ice breaker,” says Jed, “but it’s not about the tools. A maker space can be a paper bag, a desk or anything that inspires creativity.”
When Jed’s principal Kirk Downing developed a relationship with a school in Beijing, Jed was asked to spend his April vacation helping to promote STEM learning and practices with two schools in China. The STEM learning event consisted of three days of keynote speakers, workshops and hands on STEM rotation stations. There was also lesson planning time built in for participants. On day three of the workshop, teachers shared their lesson plans.
“Self-direction was not part of their schema,” Jed remarks. “Setting up stations where teachers had to direct their own learning was a major shift in mindset for some. The teachers were not closed minded,” notes Jed, “it was just a new kind of thinking for them.” To foster this new mindset in the Beijing teachers, Jed designed the teacher lessons thoughtfully. Jed began with a challenge to start the lessons, without knowing the answer. He then let the the teachers design their own models for testing and let them build their tower and explain their process to each other. One challenge had teachers design a boat that can travel across a table, then they had to swap instructions so someone else can make the same boat.
Of course Jed set up a Makey Makey station for teachers to explore as well. At this station Jed had the teachers to explore the materials while playing the piano. Teachers were then challenged to think about why it worked. They also played a Tetris game and designed a game controller. This challenge allowed teachers to work on communication, and their observation skills. We asked them, “What do you see, notice, discover?” Jed explains. “This kind of activity works well,” notes Jed, “because there is no language barrier.” Principal Downing concurs, “Makeys are a universal device, where we are able to create connections through experience, before language.”
Part of Jed’s focus with this workshop was to put the teachers into the roles that we ask our students to take, whether it was through STEAM challenges or station rotations. Jed also talked to the teachers about the 4 C's (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Creativity). “Makey Makey is honestly a powerful tool to bring those elements to life for students and teachers. In fact, I've been developing a push to consider Computational Thinking as the 5th C and Makey Makey is a great bridge to that form of literacy,” Jed explains.
Jed hopes to stay in contact with the 30-40 teachers that rotated in and out each day of the STEM event. He also hopes there will be a lasting piece at these schools, thanks to Mr. Lui, director of the large school district, who seems committed to giving teachers new experiences and exposure to ideas around innovating classroom practice. The lessons employed during this workshop were about delivery and learning, not content. The ultimate goal of the workshop was to create a space for teachers to devote time to what they are teaching, how they are teaching, and why. As always, Makey Makey is proud to be part of any initiative that will bring more self-directed learning and invention literacy to students around the world!
A new and improved interface for all your project sharing and inspiration needs!
We're revamping our platform for Makey Makers to peruse and create project guides! Go beyond the banana piano by exploring guides made by inventors around the world - from powering a reading lamp to making your own computer powered board games.
If you're a teacher you can set up your class in Makey Makey Labz and assign step-by-step guides to your students! Choose from tons of pre-written lesson plans, write your own, or modify pre-existing projects to work for your classroom.
- Browse through tons of lesson plans created by us and by other educators from around the world
- Set up a classroom with student logins and assign activities, track progress in real-time, and review student work.
- Sign in with your Clever account.
- Filter projects by CCSS and NGSS standards
- Create a private activity and administer it to your class without sharing it to the entire community.
- Document your inventions and post project guides
- Show off your inventions in the gallery
- Ask questions and share tips through comments
Here's a screenshot of the guides:
Makey Makey Labz is still in beta, so there are parts of the platform that might change and improve - we'd love to hear your thoughts about it!
To report bugs or suggest changes, please email email@example.com
Encouraging young women to explore STEM careers continues to be an important goal for many educators and non-profits. But at Xavier College Preparatory in Phoenix, Arizona, all things IT are regarded with particular reverence.
Xavier College is an all-girl Diocesan school run by the Sisters of Charity. Here, programming is a graduation requirement for all students (it’s no surprise really, as Sister of Charity, Mary Kenneth Keller, was the first person to get a PhD in Computer Science back in 1965). However, efforts to engage students in all things digital continue to be a priority -- on and off campus.
It all began five years ago when the school’s respective art and computer science teachers, Frances McMahon Ward and Catherine Wyman, read the study “Why so few?” by The American Association of University Women (AAUC), which reports that, contrary to popular belief, up until ninth grade girls have just as much interest in technology as boys.
In response to this, the duo devised "Girls Have IT Day"; a initiative for local middle school girls, which sees them supported and mentored by Xavier high schoolers. The annual event takes place every March, and is attended by hundreds of girls.
The initiative has since branched out into a Girls Have IT Camp -- a week long program developed and delivered in a similar way: run for girls, by girls, who use a range of user-friendly technology to ensure everyone can get involved.
“We’re big fans of Makey Makeys, we use them a lot during the event and the camp,” says Catherine. “We’ve seen some creative and original stuff from the students. They come with some great ideas, which we encourage and nurture as best we can.”
Five years running, the tech camp week is the same cost as normal sports camps and scholarships are available. During the camp, Xavier Prep teens are the counselors. The camp director is an also alumna. “The alums are so innovative,” Wyman notes, “they come with great ideas and the near peer mentoring model really works.”
A recent report on the Girls Have IT programs shows that it’s working. A post-event survey revealed that 92% of participants were inspired to work harder in school, and that 73% wanted to participate in more extracurricular STEM activities.
Former Xavier alumna, Sarah Godbehere, now at Gonzaga University, has even put together her own outreach program called Girls Rock IT Day.
“It’s great to see students starting social enterprise endeavours of their owns,” Catherine says. “That’s how you know the peer mentoring system works, when you see women pay it forward.”
Watch Sarah’s Girls Rock IT Day promo video below.
Thanks to everyone who nominated their favorite STEM teacher for Teacher Appreciation Day! We loved watching your videos and have now selected our winners. If you’re one of the 24 chosen, you’ll soon see a message on Twitter or FB inviting you to claim your free Makey Makey.
It’s always great to see a STEM success story. So when we discovered the the following tale on Twitter, penned by Krista Inchausti, Educational Innovation Coordinator at Convent & Stuart Hall in San Francisco, we just had to include it here!
“We purchased several Makey Makey kits to use in our school's Spark Studio. We began hosting Friday lunches, inviting classroom teachers to come play with our new tools. After we demonstrated the Makey Makeys teachers began brainstorming how they could be used in the classroom. Building upon the demo Makey Makey piano project, they started talking about replacing the piano notes with recorded voices.
“Diane Holland, second grade teacher, came up with the idea of creating a huge ‘teaching cricket’. Her students recorded facts and sound effects for each of the insect’s' body parts, wired the cricket up with the Makey Makey and then took it into Kindergarten classrooms to teach the younger students science. ‘Crystal the Teaching Cricket’ was such a hit (pictured above) that Diane was motivated to take this kind of interactive teaching tool to the next level.
“Diane came up with the idea of talking, life-sized models for her annual Influential Women projects. The girls researched, then recorded facts about each woman. The girls built four women all together, Maya Lin, Althea Gibson, Louise Nevelson, and Sonia Sotomayor. The voices were then put into Scratch and activated by pressing copper buttons connected to the Makey Makey. The great thing about the Makey Makey kit is that it provides an easy-to-use technical foundation to build on, leaving plenty of room for teacher and student creativity!”
Back in February, Tom & Liam (our intrepid Makey Makey Education team) travelled south of the border to Mexicali, the capital of Baja California, Mexico. Their mission? To lead a hands-on workshop for elementary school teachers and makerspace volunteers, as part of a broader initiative to promote STEM education initiatives in Mexican schools.
Organized with support from the US Consulate in Tijuana, the workshop was held at El Garage Makerspace at the Universidad 16 de Septiembre. Teachers attending the workshops then took part in a Makey Makey invention challenge using what they’d learnt to create something awesome back at school with their classes.
“It was wonderful to see the creativity and energy with which the kids approached the design of their projects, and we were very happy to see the results,” said event organizer, Preeti Shah. “Without Tom and Liam’s enthusiastic support and willingness to come to Mexicali, we wouldn’t have had such a great turnout.”
Since the workshop event, El Garage has continued hosting Makey Makey training for other educators in Baja.
Students at Ekcoe Central public elementary school in Glencoe, Ontario, Canada have been exploring the topographic makeup of their diverse nation with a little help from a Makey Makey or two.
Ray Van Geel is the teacher librarian behind the project. While he’d used Makey Makeys before as part of an initiative to create musical instruments, he saw a new opportunity to explore the technology when collaborating with third/fourth grade teacher, Ms. Pope, to teach the physical regions of Canada.
Students were divided into eight groups; each one was given a Makey Makey and matched with a physical region of Canada. Students were asked to investigate six aspects of their region; which they recreated in Plasticine. Using Scratch, students designed an interactive interface and recorded explanations of each aspect of their region. Each Makey Makey acted as a link between the map and a Chromebook, so that when an area was touched the corresponding explanation was activated.
The project was a resounding success. When the relief project was complete and on display in the library, Ray noticed a greater teacher enthusiasm for using creative technologies in their own classroom. Plans are now afoot to use Makey Makeys in a ‘Communities of the Past’ project for six graders and a ‘Parts of Plants’ project in grade two/three.
“When teachers can see technology in action in their classrooms and in their schools they will begin to take risks, discover new applications, and experiment with new ways to learn and teach with Makey Makey,” says Ray. “I think Makey Makey is the most creative technology tool we have in education.”
We have created the ultimate resource for teachers who want to bring the Makey Makey into their classrooms! The STEM pack allows teachers across subjects to use the Makey Makey to create physical interfaces to all kinds of work being done on computers. From hacking poetry. to sculpting the digestive system, to exploring art history, not to mention game design and circuitry, you will find the potential for invention is endless!
“The STEM Pack is the result of a year’s worth of conversations with educators about what they would most want in a classroom set. The $200 of free supplies that come with the kit will allow students to complete a wide range of projects. It’s these inventing supplies that will making such a positive difference when it comes to releasing the genius of young minds.” - Tom Heck, VP of Education Initiatives.
The Makey Makey STEM Pack contains:
12 Makey Makey Classics,
12 alligator clips 6ft,
12 6ft connector wires,
72 extra alligator clips,
144 connector wires for the back,
12 Makey Makey optimized conductive graphite pencils, and
a super cool case to keep it all tidy.
Each of the 12 Makey Makeys has its own box that comes out of the case containing the Makey Makey, USB cable, 7 alligator clips, 6 connector wires, and how-to booklet.
Watch Makey Makey's VP of Education Tom Heck and Darcy Grimes open their STEM pack.
Need project inspiration for your new STEM pack?
We've created Makey Makey Labz, a platform for people to share project guides and lesson plans - a great place to start. If you want to go further and want training for you or your teachers on how to use Makey Makey in the classroom - we offer Makey Makey professional development.
As the maker movement in education gains speed, more and more initiatives are seeking data to show the value of the makerspace as classroom and the creative technologies they contain. One such project, seeking to understand the benefits of student-directed learning and making has come from HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom initiative called the Learning Studios Project. The Learning Studios project is a network of schools willing to try projects and explore technologies, then share their experiences through anecdotes and pre and post surveys. The aim of the project study is to collect qualitative information about changes in engagement, agency, empathy and design thinking in students.
A Learning Studio was created at each site by providing teacher’s with a guide to facilitating student-led, creative processes, as well as a startup kit of free creative technologies to explore. For instance, each Learning Studio site was provided a set of Makey Makeys and two live webinars with JoyLabz (Makey Makey) VP of Education Initiatives, Tom Heck. "We've thoroughly enjoyed partnering with Digital Promise Global on the Learning Studios project," shares Tom. "Working together, we've been able to support teachers and students from around the world." Teachers could choose from many possible projects using various tools and prompts. After four months of projects, teachers shared the following highlights of using the Makey Makey kits in their classrooms;
Makey Makey kits are accessible to learners across varying ages and skill levels
Students do not not need close supervision or guidance to experiment with the Makey Makey kits.
Makey Makey kits help educators introduce basic circuitry concepts and build on those concepts by using the kits in more complex projects.
Projects using the Makey Makey kits do not need to focus solely on circuitry--they can pertain to a wide range of subjects and topics.
The Makey Makey kits make it easy and fun for parents to engage with what students are learning
Sample projects made with the Makey Makey ranged from game design to set design for a school play. “Our students designed, performed and hosted a holiday production at their school. They created an interactive experience of “magic” by configuring the Makey Makeys to trigger sounds when actors, actresses and audience members interacted with the props and scenes,” a 6th grade teacher from a USA site shares.
A highschool teacher in New Zealand shared that “Students selected a game and then worked on creating a game controller that will be effective as a control, but also reflect the nature of the game. This stage involved them creating 2D drawings and then a cardboard model to allow them to determine how the controller would feel in a player’s hand. The models (were) then created using CAD software and exported for printing on a 3D printer. The challenge (was) then completing the wiring to allow the Makey Makey board to operate as a game controller.”
Broader areas of focus in the study centered around student benefits in three areas; peer and social learning, persistence and curiosity, and agency and initiative. Significant findings from all of the Learning Studio sites showed increases in student and teacher confidence and comfort using new tools, 3D modeling, and defining problems. A key finding from the white paper states, “Student responses to “Are you a maker” were significantly lower for teachers with little making background, and were relatively high for students of teachers who reported prior experience with making and facilitating students in making activities. In other words, role models matter when trying to foster creative confidence and peer relations in a space designed for collaborative problem solving.
Read the full initial findings from the HP and Microsoft’s Reinvent the Classroom Learning Studios Project here.
Ever played Mario on Play-Doh or Piano on Bananas? Alligator clip the Internet to Your World.
"four-year-old daughter has managed to connect the kit" ~BBC
"by far the coolest Kickstarter project" ~Kotaku
"turns the whole world into a keybaord" ~Engadget
"a lot of enthusiasm and love" ~Wired
"crazy, inventive experiments" ~PC World
"We love a good diy project" ~LIfehacker
"So small, so quirky, so simple, so awesome." ~Contiki
"Mind explosion in progress." ~Indie Cookie
"turns your alphabet soup into a keyboard" ~New Scientist
"Edison meets OK Go" ~Cool Material
Order Your Kit Includes MaKey MaKey, Red USB Cable, 7 Alligator Clips, 6 Connector Wires
Who's Behind This?
Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have both been working with invention kits for the last decade.
They are the people who brought you Drawdio and Singing Fingers, and they have been on the
Scratch programming language team in the Lifelong Kindergarten group at MIT.
The kit is based on research at MIT Media Lab, and the circuit was designed in collaboration with Sparkfun. The original funding was Kickstarted.
Eric Rosenbaum is a doctoral student in the Lifelong Kindergarten group, where he creates new technologies at the intersection of
music, improvisation, play and learning. His projects include software for finger painting with sound, painting with light,
improvising with looping sounds, and creating interactive behaviors in 3D virtual worlds. His recent speaking appearances have
included TEDx Pioneer Valley, Economist Tech Frontiers, and Dust or Magic App Camp. His work has been shown at venues including
San Francisco Exploratorium, the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, San Jose Tech Museum, and the OFFFmatica and
Eric holds a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Technology in Education from Harvard University. He also holds a Master's degree in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT Media Lab, for which he developed Jots, a system to support reflective learning in the Scratch programming environment.
Jay Silver lives in Florida and is Founder/CEO of JoyLabz/MakeyMakey. Before that, he was a PhD student at MIT Media Lab where he won a Lemelson-MIT Award for Invention and Innovation.
He was Intel's first ever Maker Research Scientist. Time named one of his
inventions "Top 15 Toys for Young Geniuses." Jay has given talks at TED, PopTech, VMWorld, etc.
He has exhibited internationally at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Exploratorium, Ars Electronica, etc.
Jay studied electrical engineering at Georgia Tech where he was named Engineer of the Year. He was awarded a Gates
Scholarship to earn a master's in Internet Technology from Cambridge University. He also holds a master's in Media
Arts and Sciences from MIT Media Lab where he invented "Camera for the Invisible."