Old school presentations centered around tri-folds and posters are an old-time favorite, but they seem obsolete in the modern world of Prezi and Powerpoint. However we can bring back the treasured tri-folds and poster boards, and more importantly, there is a way to make them interactive. By using a small device that is relatively cheap, you can convert an old-school presentation into a more interactive presentation that students, teachers, and parents will love.
So what is a Makey Makey? It is a circuit board with alligator clips and a USB cable. It can turn any conductive material into an interactive component. People have turned liquids, balloons, play-doh, etc. into interactive musical instruments. The major concept of a Makey Makey is you are creating a circuit. In order for any project to be interactive, you have to complete the circuit. Often one may have to hold an alligator clip while touching an object in order to complete the circuit, but this isn’t always the case. Different projects have different ways of completing the circuit. If you can dream it, you can probably turn it into an inventive project with a Makey Makey.
Some cool projects that you can check out on the website include making stairs into a keyboard (my personal favorite), making game controllers by shading on a piece of paper with a pencil, or the ability to make different games in conjunction with Scratch. There are hundreds of things you can do with a Makey Makey.
One example that I enjoyed was the use of a Makey Makey to make an Operation game. One particular year, a school was putting on Shrek the play. The project was to create products for the show, and one team came up with the idea of creating an operation game with Shrek as the game board. It was a success and a blast to play as well.
Another project comes to mind which occurred during summer enrichment at the same school. A project was designed for a student with special needs that had limited use of their hands. However, they enjoyed the music. The students in the enrichment class designed gloves that could play music. The prototype was extremely rough at best, but it did function. It allowed the student to play music by moving their fingers to complete a circuit, which in turn played different notes. It was a great hands-on activity, and more importantly students came together for the betterment of a peer.
The more important question is how can you quickly utilize a Makey Makey in your classroom with little setup and training. Fortunately, there are a ton of resources online where you can quickly learn how to utilize a Makey Makey. All you need is a Makey Makey, some conductive materials, and the will to invent. Once you have all of that, visit https://makeymakey.com/ to gain access to educator resources and videos of hundreds of Makey Makey projects. To save you some time, here are a few ideas that you can incorporate into your classroom.
This is a great way to teach students about different eras in history, art movements, different literary movements, etc. For this example, I will focus on art periods discussed in AP European History. In AP European History, it can be difficult for students to keep track of the different art movements and their characteristics. A Museum Walk is a great way for students to get a refresher and to dive deeper into the art history they were unable to fully gain a grasp of during class.
One can easily assign a specific art movement such as Baroque to a student to research. They pick an example of Baroque art as their interactive piece. Different points of the artwork when touched by a visitor will complete the circuit which in turn will play pre-recorded information about the artwork and that art movement as well. As students walk around the room, they can write down essential information they learn from each interactive piece.
This type of project gives ownership to the student and their education. As the teacher, you are mainly there to guide them in terms of making their project interactive with the Makey Makey, and to verify that the information they have gathered is correct. The rest is up to the student. It is hard to take a step back and allow students to have at it, but this type of project can inspire students to think beyond the box, and they will be better off because of that.
This type of project can be utilized in every subject. In chemistry, you can explore the Periodic Table of Elements. In English, you can explore different literary techniques and elements or different authors. In Math, one can explore different math concepts such as hypotenuse and Pi. In Spanish students can explore different Spanish-speaking countries. The possibilities are endless.
One of the hardest aspects of review games such as Jeopardy is the ability to keep it fair. For example, when students can steal, it is hard to determine who was first to raise their hand. However, with Makey Makey, you can create buzzers. The first hit the buzzer gets the steal. This keeps the game moving so you can get more reviews done. Buzzers can be used in a Family Feud-style review game as well. The biggest thing to remember is that you need to complete the circuit, so students need to hold one alligator clip while they touch the interactive “button” to complete the circuit.
If you attended school in the 90s, you probably played the classic educational game The Oregon Trail. Students today don’t know what they are missing out on. All that work was for nothing when you died of dysentery halfway through the journey. Oh, the memories. What if you could turn your classroom walls into a giant gameboard? Well, you can with a Makey Makey. Students can follow the trail across your walls, and make different decisions along the way. Different decisions can lead to different outcomes. Your wall may end up looking like the mad ravings of a conspiracy theorist, but think of the fun your students will have.
The sky is the limit with a Makey Makey. They are relatively cheap, but the fun you can have is priceless. Students will have a blast coming up with new ideas. It can be a great way to build teamwork as well. The possibilities are truly endless. Don’t be afraid to experiment with one as well. You may have more fun than the students. Go ahead and visit https://makeymakey.com/ right now to get your own Makey Makey, or to learn more about the endless possibilities.