Looking for ways to incorporate coding into just about any subject area? Re-imagine student poster projects as interactive exhibits by combining the digital storytelling power of Scratch, a kid-friendly, block-based programming language with Makey Makey, an invention kit that connects everyday objects to computer programs! In the specific example shared below, 5th grade Science students working in groups of three, created interactive displays as part of their study of food chains. This interactive exhibit project idea could easily be adapted to a wide range of grade levels and topic areas. The total time for the project, which assumed no previous Scratch coding experience, was just under five hours (Five, 50 minute class periods). A summary of this specific project follows or click on the link below to access the complete lesson plan.View Detailed Lesson Plan
Day 1 & 2 (approx. 2 hours): Research & create display boards
- Students working in teams of three research their topic
- Each team member creates one panel of the display board using a piece of 8.5″ x 11″ cardstock. Display board includes images or student drawings.
Day 3 (approx. 1 hour): Intro. Makey Makey & assemble display boards
- Teacher introduces students to Makey Makey and reviews how the device operates (great opportunity to talk about electric circuits).
- Students add brass fasteners to areas of the display board that will become interactive “touchpoints” when they create their Scratch program and connect their boards to the Makey Makey
- Teams combine their panels by taping them together to form a free-standing, display
- Students are introduced to Scratch coding
- Teacher walks students through the creation of recording sound clips inside Scratch, Each sound clip is named and contains key facts that will become part of the exhibits.
- Teacher walks students through creating a basic Scratch program to call up an individual sound recording when a specific key is pressed. See example right. Students repeat this process, creating multiple mini-programs made up of just two commands to initiate the playing of each recorded key fact.
- Students connect their display boards to the Makey Makey. This is done by connecting an alligator clip to the bent tines of the brass fastener located on the backside of the display. The other end of the wire is attached to the appropriate place on the Makey Makey, for example if the brass fastener, when touched should play the facts about “Food Chains”, the other end would connect to the “up arrow” on the MakeyMakey according the the example program shown above.
Day 5 – Share Interactive Displays
- Students connect up their Makey Makeys, display boards and Chromebooks (or laptops) and participate in a gallery walk to share their creations.
- Note: In our school, I worked with five classes, so between days 4 & 5 kids disconnected their Makey Makeys from the display board so that we could share the same Makey Makey devices with each class. It only takes a few minutes for kids to re-connect them on day 5 and is more practical than purchasing enough to accommodate multiple classes.
This project is just one example of how you can incorporate Scratch and Makey Makey into the general education curriculum, while exposing students to computational thinking skills and allowing them the opportunity to create using code. For a more detailed lesson plan, click HERE. Makey Makey’s can be purchased for $50 directly from the folks at JoyLabs or other online vendors. They can be used in a wide-range of project and are a great resource to have in your school. Creating a Makerspace in your buildings? Makey Makey’s are a must-have for any space serving students in grades 3 and up.