Making with a Makey-Makey

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

This blog post was written by Amy Tan, a junior at Whitney Young High School.  She is one of the IIT Boeing Scholars, and with her STEM Ed(You)Cation team, is working on science outreach for family science nights.

It seems like a lot of people are making interesting things.  Chef’s are getting famous for making interesting foods, and a new web application seems to come out every day.  Looking at things like Make Magazine, you can see that people are making some interesting electronics too.

The Makey-Makey

The video is a good place to start.

 Materials

Procedure

  1. Connect the Makey-Makey to your computer.
  2. Connect a wire to ground and hold on to it.
  3. Connect other wire leads to the other outputs of the device, and start touching them.  They will trigger keyboard events on your computer.
  4. Find programs or web sites that will interact with the Makey-Makey and have fun!

What is Going On

Makey-Makey is a fun, interactive project to expose kids to electrical circuitry. The project involves using alligator clips, electrical wires, a circuit board, and a USB cord to connect to a computer. The idea is that the user can connect the wires to just about anything that conducts electricity, whether that be a banana, a pot, or even a hand. Touching different wires on the circuit board produces different effects,each corresponding to a specific key on the computer keyboard. For example, touching the green wire might activate the “A” key on the keyboard. This brings the computer’s controls to a highly interactive level that can stimulate young children’s interest in circuitry and electronics.

Various fun projects can be conducted with a Makey-Makey kit. For the Science Night, we are going to construct a cardboard guitar, with several coins taped onto the cardboard as the buttons. Then, we will attach the alligator clips and the connector wires to each coin, so that each coin corresponds with a key on the computer. After opening Garageband, pressing each coin will simulate a different sound effect on the computer, so kids can play around with combining different keys or sounds to make their own music. We will conduct different experiments, like having the kids hold each other’s hands to see how a complete circuit loop is needed to conduct electricity. All of these projects and experiments can be done at home. All you need is a Makey-Makey kit, sold online for $49.99.


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