Makey Makey Marble Maze and 5th grade

colleengravesorgMakeyMaze

#EvilMakeybook and Marble Mazes

Last year Aaron and I wrote 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius. We had so much fun creating all of the projects and finding interesting and whimsical ways to incorporate cardboard low-tech making with Scratch coding and mashing it all together with Makey Makey.

As we wrote the projects, we didn’t really envision it as a book for teachers to use with classes, but this fall, I noticed a tweet from Anne Smith. She created a whole lesson around the engineering design process and our marble maze Makey Makey project! Check out her lesson here.

This gave me the idea to see if my 5th grade team at Mason would be interested in having their students design Makey Makey mazes…..and the answer was YES!

Early this spring, each 5th grade class spent a week in the library learning about Scratch, Makey Makey, and creating marble mazes out of recyclables.

Overview of Week Long Lesson

Day One: Students either created a Makey Makey alarm with Scratch or worked on creating a DIY switch with paper and foil. I changed the lesson up for classes depending on how much Scratch or Makey Makey experience they had.

(Note: the pencil alarm in the video below was designed because a kid in their class actually steals pencils….)

#makeymakey and #Scratch alarms to prep for making #evilmakeybook mazes! #storyofmson

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Day Two/Three: Students designed mazes on paper and then began designing a maze with recyclables. The first class stuck to building with straws and made insanely awesome Scratch tricks. The next few classes got more and more inventive with the physical aspects of the maze.

Day Three/Four: On the third day, I taught a mini lesson on creating a roll over switch with foil and a marble. Then I handed out materials for students to begin creating interactive switches Scratch and Makey Makey.

On day four, students were told to get there maze to a finished point and problem solve any Makey Makey interactions by the end of class. Check out this cool trick one of the group of girls figured out:

Day Five: Students had 20 minutes for last minute tweaks and then they were able to share their projects Makerfest style! We invited other classes to come in and play mazes. Students loved sharing their work with others and inspiring the next class to become more and more inventive in their maze making.

Check out all the of their awesome work below:

Making is messy

Just a friendly reminder that everyday was a mess. Make sure you include time for clean up and have the students be a part of the clean up process! Some classes are better about cleaning than others, but it’s an important aspect of life. Making a mess when making is normal, but students need to learn to clean up after. 🙂

Check out other schools making Makey Makey marble mazes!

One of the best things about writing books and sharing projects online is seeing other classes in other states trying out the same project. Check out these other schools makey-makeying mazes!

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4th Grade Invention Literacy Projects

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Note: Since I heard the term Invention Literacy from Jay Silver in 2015 I’ve been a tad obsessed with it because it perfectly describes what I am trying to do in my library makerspace. My goal in makerspace programming is to help our students “understand the way the world works so they can create new stuff.” Read all of my posts about Invention Literacy here. I’ve previously done this project with high school students and adult learners, so this was my first year adapting the project for elemakers! Read on to learn about my process and check out all of the cool stuff Mason 4th graders made below!

From January to the beginning of March, I led each class of 4th grade students through the Invention Literacy project. Every 4th grade class had a dedicated week to choose an invention, learn how it works and recreate it with recyclables and the materials available in the library. (Note that I also lead Invention Literacy workshops for Makey Makey that focus only on utilizing the Makey Makey. At school, I allow students to create with whatever materials they are most comfortable with!)

I created an Invention Literacy journal for students to track their week’s work. In the beginning I tried to have it as an online document for 4th graders, but quickly realized they did better with it as a paper journal.

To start the project we watched videos of Jay Silver talking about the need for Invention Literacy. (This is currently my favorite video of him discussing this idea of a new needed literacy.) Then I asked students what they felt invention literacy means in their own words.  We also took some time to talk about and define prototyping, so students could understand that making is an iterative process and that their final invention doesn’t have to be polished.

After talking about inventing and prototyping, I gave small groups time to brainstorm and sketch invention ideas. This was one of my favorite things! Students quickly got to work talking about ideas they had and what they wanted to make! They LOVED being able to recreate any invention their little heart desired. (We did have to talk a lot about scalability and time constraints. They only had 5 days to make their invention! No you can’t make a robotic hand in 5 days, but you could create one out of cardboard or straws…. No, you can’t make your own computer in 5 days, but you can learn about all the parts of a computer, etc.)

On the second day of the project, students had to research the history of their invention online using Encyclopedia Brittanica or another library database of their choice. Once they had researched HOW their invention worked, they crowdsourced to find out how others had made similar inventions. After all the brainstorming and researching was done, it was time to get making! Students had 3 days to create their collaborative invention. On Friday, students presented their inventions to the next class that would be coming to the library. Next year, I hope we can share our projects with the whole school at a STEM night or something!

Some teachers also had students share what they made in Flipgrid. We also asked them to reflect on what new skills they learned making the project and talk about the most challenging aspect of their Invention Literacy project.

Make Time for Cleaning and Re-organizing

One important note is that if you try to have a project like this back to back each week, you will need to make time for cleaning and reorganizing your maker supplies after each group is finished. This is what our materials looked like at the beginning. Note that all of our materials along this wall are consumable (other than the sewing machine.) I learned my lesson last year when students sawed apart double-sided knitting needles to create catapults!

Maker Recess

One of my favorite things that happened during this project was that students asked if they could come work on their projects during recess. It made my elementary library feel a little more like the communal home I had in secondary!

Student Projects

The variety of projects due to student choice was astounding! Kids learned what they needed when they needed it! Some students learned cardboard engineering techniques, while others learned to sew, create circuits, build cars, and more.

Below are all of the awesome things these 4th graders made! I am so proud of them for taking risks and learning to make something on their own and fill their maker toolbox with new skills.

Harvey’s Class

All of Harvey’s Class projects!

Scott’s Class Mid-Project

All of Scott’s Projects

Honea’s Class Mid-Project

Nelson’s Class Mid-Project

Harkin’s Class

 

Next year?

Next year I hope to work on invention literacy skills all year long with younger students, so that as my students get more comfortable with more materials, their projects will get more and more complex. I loved seeing the variety of projects and the many ways kids design cardboard candy dispensers!