This is a question I’ve been asked a few times by teachers. It’s lots of fun but what are the kids actually learning?
Well for a start setting up the MaKeyMaKey is like setting up a simple circuit, so you’re covering some basic electronics and physics right there.
MaKeyMaKey is a connection between you and your computer, you could call it a ‘tangible user interface’ – it gives a physical form to digital information. Using MaKeyMaKey helps you understand a bit about how your computer works whilst allowing you some insight into how your computer could work. It should inspire creativity and spark an interest in computing beyond things you can do with a keyboard.
In Design and Technology terms, it is an example of Control Technology. This has been on the curriculum for years. I found a 10 year old article explaining why and how schools should embrace control technologies and the sentiment is still true today;
“Why do it in school?
Because it is there in the world outside. If school is to help prepare young people for their adult life, education should reflect the changing society. So technology education in particular must reflect the changes in technology, in order to equip pupils with relevant experience .
It encourages self development and improved skills. With no set solution to a given problem, control activities always involve pupils in problem solving. Learning to use control software develops logical thinking and teaches pupils the basics of computer programming.”
You can use MaKeyMaKey to control any simple program, which means you can write your own simple program in Scratch and use it with MakeyMaKey. There are lots of examples here.
MaKeyMaKey also has lots of cross curricular connections. See our post about making a cardboard guitar for an idea which could encompass an art and craft project, musical composition, playing music in a group, electronics and programming.
If we have managed to convince you and you want to give it a go, you can buy MaKeyMaKeys from any number of on-line suppliers – they are all about £40 (but look on eBay as well!). Then check out our quick-start tutorial.