STEAM Skills targeted: Electronics, Engineering, Design
Recommended age range: 8+
The ‘maker’ movement has been growing in popularity steadily for several years and fits in perfectly with the increasing emphasis on the importance of STEM skills and how kids can develop them through play.
What is a maker? You could basically call yourself a maker if you invent something. Typical maker projects combine electronics and programming with craft projects and ways of creating tangible objects through woodwork, metalwork, 3D printing and so on.
Still confused? Check out Make Magazine for some examples of DIY projects including wearable technology, time saving home devices and robots.
All of which brings us to Makey Makey – an invention kit for everyone
Makey Makey is designed to be kid friendly, but anyone can use it. Basically, Makey Makey is an electronics kit that allows you to turn everyday objects into a controller.
Some examples of what you can do with Makey Makey:
Makey Makey was invented at MIT and manages to be incredibly simply and ingenious at the same time. In the box you get a circuit board in the shape of a game controller, a USB cable and a bunch of wires with alligator clips. The system works with mac and pc.
All you do is plug the controller into your computer and wire up some everyday objects to replace the space and arrow keys on your computer. You can use Makey Makey with anything that conducts electricity: fruit, coins, cutlery, people, pets, water, pencil graphite and many many more things. In fact there’s a learning activity in itself just trying different objects to see what will conduct electricity.
Once you’re set up and plugged in, you can use the system to control anything you would normally on your computer – play a game, play music, post a message on social media and so on.
There are loads of examples to get you started on the Makey Makey website as well as some STEM lesson plans for teachers and homeschoolers.
Makey Makey Go is the newest version of the system and works on a similar concept but comes as a usb stick so it’s easier to plug and and use wherever you are.
The Makey Makey Go stick has less buttons than the original kit but you can use more than one at the same time to expand the range of possibilities.