So it’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post, but I wanted to share what I have been doing with Touch Develop and Makey Makey. In the new computer science curriculum students need to know a little more about how computer hardware works. I had thought about how difficult it can be for kinaesthetic learners to understand how things work. This article will aim to show you what we have done to our display boards at Uppingham Community College. We’ve turned our classroom into something similar to what you might find in museums.
I had seen a video from Gareth Ritter. He is a music teacher at Willows High in Wales @ritzertech. He has been using Makey Makey to make some excellent tools for his students. For example, he made wearable technology and also made an interactive display which would play the sounds of instruments. You can also find out more about him at http://www.askthemusicteacher.co.uk You can see the video here:
With the work that I had been doing with Touch Develop, I thought that I could do something which would allow my year 7 students the opportunity to physically touch the hardware but also find out some information about it. Using touch develop I used the MakeyMakey library. Unfortunately, it only allowed you to complete the Up,Down,Left,Right and Space keys. I have had to modify the library to get it to work a little better with Touch Develop. As a result, I ended up with this application which doesn’t have any sound yet….. (it’s on the way). Click Here – If you have a Makey Makey kit, you can run this application on your surface if you have clips connected to Up,Down,Left,Right,Space,W and S. The video shows how it works and you can see that using the Surface, the screens are changing each time you touch the hardware. Some of the hardware I haven’t been able to mount on the wall, however smaller items such as the CPU are conductible and work with the Makey Makey kit.
Now that the computer science curriculum has come in, it’s important not to lose our learners with the jargon, this display and the use of the software will allow us to help out our visual learners.
I have attached an example of the code below. You can see how repetitive it is and how it’s simple for someone who hasn’t any experience in programming. If you want to do something similar, you can access my code here and change it easily. You will only need to upload the pictures (the things with the flower symbol) and then replace the image with what you need. Make sure you use the screen resolution of a surface device if you’re planning to use your app this way.
What is Makey Makey
Makey Makey is an electronic circuit board which uses electricity from the USB to make signals which represent keyboard presses. By using a Makey Makey kit you can connect anything up to the board. For example, you could make a banana keyboard in your music lessons. It might make things more interesting for those disengaged learners. You could create apps using Touch Develop that would look for the key presses. You could get students to develop their own game controllers for games they make in your computing lessons.
If you would like to order some at a decent price, my friend Gareth Ritter recommended maplins 🙂 – They seem to be reasonable. I managed to get some for £35 each. You could order one or order a whole class depending on what you’re planning.