Makey Makey’s in Electronics

by Christine Vadovszki

STEM classes at Skyline High School often begin the semester with an introductory project. The goal is to have students collaborate, create, design and build as soon as possible, while introducing the content and material to be covered in the course. Skyline’s newest STEM elective for juniors, Advanced Engineering - Electronics, offers students the opportunity to bridge the gap between the arts and STEM through the use of an inventive electronic device called the MaKey MaKey. For an introductory project, students were challenged to utilize a MaKey MaKey to create a unique musical instrument that they had to present and perform in front of the class.

MaKey MaKey is an invention kit that quickly allows the user to turn everyday objects into a keyboard compatible with your computer. MaKey Makey uses a pre-programmed arduino that, when plugged into a computer, temporarily “takes over” the keyboard. A banana attached with alligator clips can suddenly become your spacebar! Groups began by brainstorming and planning what materials they wanted to make their instrument out of and what sounds/notes they wanted it to produce. Students then wielded the free programming language Scratch to code and  customize the sounds that their new instruments would make.

At the end of the project, all groups gave both a presentation reflecting on their projects, and a performance (Example 1, Example 2) of their instruments to cap it off.