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Makey Makey

Makey Makey is an invention kit that allows you to turn everyday items into a touch pad that can be used to control your computer. But it is much more than just a replacement for your keyboard – by integrating Makey Makey with Scratch, you can now bring control and sensing to your programs.

So what is so cool about Makey Makey?

Well, you can turn just about anything that is conductive into an input device for your computer. Tin foil, fruit and veg, by drawing with a normal pencil, the list goes on and on. Your students will learn about conductivity as well as getting to design their own input device or add additional functionality to their Scratch programs.

Makey Makey

Makey Makey bongo drums

Here's a cool project that is easy for younger kids to do – play dough bongos! You can use off-the-shelf stuff or make your own from basic store cupboard ingredients. Here is what you'll need:

  • 500g flour
  • 225ml water
  • 35g salt
  • 3 table spoons cream of tartar
  • 1 table spoon vegetable oil

You can also add a bit of food colouring to give your dough some go.

  • Mix together all the ingredients in a pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring continually.
  • The mixture will start to bubble and get thick – keep stirring!
  • As it thickens, it’ll start to stick together, Keep stirring until it forms a ball in the middle of the pot
  • Use a spoon to transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Be careful, the dough will be hot hot hot
  • Once it has cooled enough to handle, kneed it until it has that Play Dough texture and consistency
  • Store it in an airtight container or plastic bag, just like you would with shop bought play doughs.

Now, back to the bongos…

  1. Make one large bongo and one small bongo from the dough
  2. Plug your Makey into the USB port of your computer
  3. Connect one crocodile clip to the left arrow pad and stick the other end into the large dough bongo
  4. Connect another crocodile clip to the space pad and stick the other end into the small bongo
  5. Now visit apps.MakeyMakey.com/bongos and turn your sound up loud!
  6. With one hand, touch the earth on the Makey Makey and play the play dough bongos with the other hand

Toy car timing gates

Now try integrating your Makey Makey with a Scratch program. This one times a small toy car travelling along a track. You’ll need some card, split pins, paperclips, a car and some track. You’ll also need Scratch running on a computer with your Makey Makey connected to it.

Makey Makey car timer
Timing gates Timing gates
  1. Using card, paper fasteners and paper clips, make some gates to suit your car track similar to these shown. The aim is to make the paperclips touch when the gate is closed and so they can be pushed open by the car as is passes though.
  2. Place the gates one metre apart near then end of the track
  3. Connect one side of each gate to the earth of the Makey Makey
  4. Connect the first gate to the space pad and the second gate to the left arrow
  5. In Scratch, create the program as shown and run it
Scratch program
  1. Make sure both gates are closed, the program will prompt you if they aren’t. You will also see green lights on the Makey Makey next to the arrow and space keys if your gates are closed
  2. Run the car down your track – the program will time how long it takes to pass between the two gates

Can you modify the program to tell you the speed in metres per second?

Remember, Speed = Distance/time