We love Makey Makeys, we really do. They are one of those devices that I can stand behind 100% for a school to bring in. Kids love them and they really spark imagination and experimentation. For those who have not seen them before then google it and check out some of the videos. The basics are though that any computer with a USB port will see it as a keyboard, this is great as it makes it instantly Chromebook compatible.
Over the last year we’ve done a number of Makey Makey projects from musical instruments to interactive display boards. Most of the time the students will program in Scratch for what the inputs from the Makey Makey will do. For this project though it was a little different. The students in Year 4 (8 year olds) were asked to research other Makey Makey inventions they could find on youtube and blog sites and then to devise their own invention. The purpose was for the students to go through a process of discovery and to learn what it is like to invent.
After some initial research students decided whether they wanted to work alone or in a group. They used Google Drawings to sketch out a shared plan for their invention and to experiment with any needed Scratch work. The students are contributing towards an ‘innovation blog’ in Blogger during this unit, they added a first post talking about their ideas, plans and inspiration.
The next part was two lessons time of making. It was noisy, messy and awesome. The students tried out their ideas and made changes and improvements as needed. The only downside in the students completely choosing their own projects with minimal teacher input is that many of them were swayed into creating game controllers for some of the online games they enjoyed. Not necessarily a downside but would have been nice to have seen more variety in their projects (something to look at for next year).
As well as a lot of game controllers we did get alarm clocks, webcam burglar alarms, mazes, musical instruments, sound boards and a few other interesting creations.
Once the students had made their inventions they filmed and photographed for the innovation blog. We will pick up after the holidays with some bits to reflect on their discoveries during the process.