Big News! New gig as Content Creator at Makey Makey

16 years ago I graduated with a BFA in photography, and I loved getting a degree in art. (Read my apology to my art degree here.) Every semester I learned new skills and found new passions. (Like lithography, I almost decided to get an MFA in printmaking after taking that course!) However, I soon realized that I couldn’t really work full time as an artist, so I applied for grad school and got my Masters in Education.

I wanted to work in schools because of the negative experiences I had with teachers as a student. I’m happy to say I was able to spend 15 years in schools trying to let kids know that they came first and that every student has the potential to be creative. (This was my focus an English teacher and as a librarian.)

After my art degree, I was still consumed with learning new skills, and creating things. In the early 2000s I taught myself to sew and created an Etsy shop. As a beginning teacher, I taught myself to knit and even hosted a weekly knitting meet up for a few years.

So it makes sense that I became a maker educator. Making things and learning how things work is part of what makes me tick.

Plu, after writing maker project books with Aaron, and sharing new projects with Twitter and Instagram friends, I realized that my work in schools could continue, even if I am not in a school on a daily basis.

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So it makes me extremely happy to tell you readers that I’m forging a new career path at Makey Makey/Joy Labz. My new job as Director of Community and Creative Content is to make stuff and share it. My daily tasks are to share ideas with the maker community, and create content to help you and your makers grow. Don’t worry, I’ll still be in area schools testing projects and teaching students how to find their inner creativity.

It will just be on a much larger scale.

Speaking of larger scale, here is my first project as a content creator. I hope you have fun making and hacking this oversized Makey Makey! This oversized tool is a great way to teach students how to use a Makey Makey.

This blog will continue to focus on maker projects (Makey Makey and beyond!) and I’ll still be reviewing maker tools for use in schools (Upcoming reviews include: Scratch Coding Cards, Scratch Jr Coding Cards, and various sewing machines for all school levels.) Aaron evens says he’ll be coming on as a contributor and writing about projects he attempts with his students.

 

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Makey Makey Workshop for #SanAngeloMakers

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Wanda Green of The Tom Green County Library System in San Angelo invited me out to lead teachers and librarians through the Makey Makey Invention Literacy workshop this summer.

It was a fun day of great learning! Check out the day of learning below. (Note: This is a workshop I facilitate that was designed by Tom Heck. I change things up a little bit, but this amazing workshop and design challenge was designed by Tom!)

Giant Paper Circuits and Switches

We started the day with hands-on learning about circuits and switches. Teachers were excited to learn how to make a simple circuit and construct their own switch out of everyday materials. I like teaching teachers about circuits BEFORE opening up Makey Makey for the first time. After completing circuits with switches, teachers examine Makey Makey, plug it in, and play Makey Makey piano and bongos, etc.

Coding Visuals for Storytelling

After playing  around with the Makey Makey apps, I challenged the attendees to draw their circuits.

I love mashing up literacy and making, so for their first experience combining Makey Makey with Scratch, I ask them to draw four visuals to tell a story (or to retell a story).

After a quick tour of Scratch, they recorded their voices and made their drawings interactive by creating events in Scratch.

Collaboration

For the last half of the day, teachers are challenged to work together to use Design Thinking and solve a real problem they have.

I just love how a good design challenge encourages collaboration and engagement. Plus, by working with recyclables, learners are able to easily see trash become treasure with this everyday prototyping tool.

Design Challenge

Here are some unique challenges from librarians and teachers and the solutions they created using Makey Makey and Scratch!

Problem One: Patrons need to sign a waiver when they enter the makerspace.

Solution: Create a sock puppet to remind someone to sign a waiver as they pick up the pencil to sign in.

Problem Two: Teen librarians find it difficult to get teenagers to play games well collaboratively.

Solution Two: Build a unique game controller system and a game that requires teens to play together in order to win the game.

Problem Three: A child forgets to take medicine before leaving for school.

Solution: Create an alarm that reminds the child to take medicine and detach the alarm from their backpack as they leave for the school day.

Problem Four: Little learners have trouble finding Ctrl Alt Delete AND remembering their user names and passwords.

Solution: Create an interactive display that helps them find Ctrl Alt Delete and helps them with user name and password.

Problem Five: Books are being misshelved in the library.

Solution: Create a system to put books on the shelf in the right way. Use Scratch to tell what title the book is as it is pulled off the shelf, and create a switch that is only pressed when the right book is put on the shelf.