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.

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3rd Grade Monster Paper Circuits with Chibitronics

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Last week Mrs. Merritt wanted to have her class create some monster paper circuit cards for Halloween. She shared a lesson and template with me that she found online. It was a great template, but instead of just assembling a template with a pre-done drawing, I suggested having the students create their own monster drawings to accompany the glowing monster eyes.

Since I always start with a template and then have students draw, my plan was to for students to use a parallel circuit template first. Then after having a successful circuit creation, they could draw monsters to go around the lights.  However, Mrs. Merritt was one step ahead of me! Her amazing students had already drawn monsters…and I’m so glad they did! It challenged my thinking and the way I normally attempt paper circuits with kids.

All of the students had very different drawings, so the placement of the battery and LEDs would have to be determined by each student on an individual basis (and in under an hour!)

I came to Mrs. Merritt’s room on Halloween and asked the students if they could define parallel lines. Serendipitously, they’d just learned that parallel lines are two lines that never intersect. (We repeated the mantra over and over throughout the session, that the two lines could not intersect or they would have a short circuit.)

I shared that we would be working together to create a parallel circuit to light up the monster drawings created the day before. To help guide them, I showed the students this great tutorial from Jie Qi. I also had a copy of the parallel circuit template available at each table group as a reference.

Students had to draw out where to place the battery and draw the positive and negative trace. Once they’d drawn the circuit, I gave them copper tape and a battery. (Mentioning over and over not to pull all the backing off the tape, but rather affix the tape slowly and press down on the tape with a thumbnail to make a smooth connection.) Once the two parallel lines looked manageable, I handed them chibi stickers.

About twenty minutes in, I got a little worried because the kids were having a lot of problems creating their own circuit and finding success. I looked at Mrs. Merritt and said, “Oh, I should’ve warned you that this might be frustrating at first, because a lot of kids are going to run into problems.”

And run into problems they did! But the motivation to get those monster eyes shining brightly pushed our kids to persevere! To help debug, I showed students how both “legs” or copper pads of the LED had to touch a circuit trace and how to add tape to try and fix or debug their faulty paper circuits. Sometimes, the students problem was only that the copper trace wasn’t touching one side of a battery. Once a student understood how to get a working circuit, they quickly turned to help a friend. It was amazing to see them struggle and then turn around and become the teacher. By the end of our short time, they all had at least one LED working. It was pretty phenomenal! Plus, by creating their own circuitry instead of following a template, they seemed to have a better grasp of how paper circuits work. One kid kept repeating, “I just want one LED, because I don’t want the second LED to steal the power.”

It was a fast and furious making session, and I’m so happy to see such young makers push through and problem solve to find success!

Here’s a Clips video I made throughout the one hour session. You can see how each circuit is different and how much debugging went into some of their work. Plus you can see almost every drawing in this quick under a minute video:

What are your favorite paper circuit activities to try with students? What other ways have you integrated paper circuits with your curriculum?