We got our hands on some Makey Makey kits this week. What’s Makey Makey? In short, it’s a kit that helps you turn everyday objects into touchpads that control your keyboard/computer. Conductive objects such as bananas, potatoes, plant leaves, and paper clips can be wired up and control different keys on your keyboard with the help of this kit. For more information about how Makey Makey works and project inspiration, check out this website http://makeymakey.com/howto.php.
None of the kids had ever seen a potato piano before and were very excited to play the one we had set up. In no time, they were making their own.
One of the first hurdles was figuring out how to play the potatoes to make music. Students had to hold onto the metal tip of an alligator clip with one hand while tapping the potatoes with the other hand. By doing this, their bodies helped close a circuit, connecting the current from the potato to the Makey Makey kit.
Students–not wanting to hold onto the clip with their fingers–got creative with making sure it stayed in contact with their skin: some would tape it to their hands, their arms, or their fingertips. This helped free up their hands and enabled them to interact more fully with their kit.
In addition to potatoes, what else could we use to play the piano? We had a bag of random objects that might work in place of potatoes and allowed them to experiment. The bag included: plant leaves (both dry and alive), paper clips, coffee stirrers, and assorted fruits.
We encouraged the students to explore using pencil graphite as a conductive medium and draw out their controllers on paper. With some trial and error, the students soon figured out how to connect their drawings to the kit and control the computer’s up/down/left/right/ keys by tapping on their drawings.
The students were astonished and excited when they learned that they could play a game of Tetris by simply tapping on their drawings. Graphite’s conductibility took a lot of us (even mentors) by surprise!
For more pics, check out our Flickr page!!