Last week we had our last class on conversations with materials and reading about interest-driven arts learning (Peppler, 2013). We also had an opportunity to go to the MILL (Make Innovate Learn Lab) and make something with Makey Makey (Figure 1).
I heard about this kit before but never had the chance to make something. So after playing around with it, I decided to make a keyboard with some bananas that were available and with a 3D printing of an elephant.
But before I share my experience with Makey Makey, I want to write about some insightful thoughts from Peppler (2013) about the multiple literacies and practices youth can experience when they are involved in interest-driven arts learning activities. Youths are using new digital arts (e.g. Machinima, FanFiction, animation, digital photography, and digital music) as means of expression but also they become literate and perform important technical, critical, creative and ethical practices. It was an ‘aha!’ moment when I read about these practices. It is so true! I also think that these practices can be applied to open-source electronics like Arduino boards. These are the practices from Figure 1.2 in Peppler (2013, 21):
Anyway, during my experience with Makey Makey, I could see how I was involved in debugging when I could not get any sound. I observed other projects around the MILL and online and evaluated my different choices. I also wanted to generate some music the most creative way possible (the perfectionist in me…sometimes getting me into trouble). Once I figured out how to connect the alligator clips to ground, then to the bananas and to the elephant (Figure 2), I looked for an online app that would create some music. The app MK-1 (Figure 3) was pretty cool because you could pick six different sounds (e.g. whistle, vibraphone) and even you could play with key changes from major or minor keys.
There are additional functionalities on the back of the Makey Makey board (Figure 4) and it is Arduino compatible. You could change the letters WASDFG for others or code the microprocessor to use any of the analog or digital pins for any input or output to communicate with the computer. What I also like about this kit is that the electronics are exposed so kids could see them and be able to figure out how the board works by using online forums or even just go to the online sites of Makey Makey or Sparkfun. This kit also reminds me of Mitch Resnick’s design principles of design for designers, low floor and wide walls, and support many paths, many styles.
Peppler, K. (2013). New Opportunities for Interest-Driven Arts Learning in a Digital Age. The Wallace Foundation.