Information Processing with Makey Makey

Well, this is it.  A few weeks ago I read the syllabus for my CEP 811 class and saw I was going to have to create some form of a machine to integrate into my class.  I love building, creating, etc. but I have never created something that I needed to integrate with technology, let alone be driven by technology.  So, I was extremely nervous.  I started to look at what other students had done previously in this class, and the most common trend was integrating music into the contact with something (think piano in many forms).  For me this seemed to give me zero value to my classroom, and I didn’t want to go this route.  So I had to get creative, which I am not always great at!

 

Let’s rewind a little before the creativity portion.  For this particular week we studied the use of technologies and creativity in education (perfect tie in to my creative fear I was having). According to Punya Mishra & The Deep-Play Research Group there are two key myths involved in educational technology (2012).  First, that new technologies must drive educational technology, and second that creativity can be taught in a content neutral manner.  While both of these seem obviously wrong, when I thought a little more in depth about these it makes sense that a focus on “new” for technology can be beneficial, but also can take away from other opportunities.  Additionally, creativity can come in a variety of ways and doesn’t mean someone either is creative or isn’t, for example a painter is very creative but they may not be able to compose music or create a new car design, or a new training philosophy.  This helped spark my creativity, by having me focus on my desired outcome and my curriculum rather than just focusing on “Being creative”.

 

So back to me being “creative”.  One of my upcoming learning outcomes for my class is to learn the concept of information processing.  It is one of the learning outcomes for one of my classes, and I had planned very simple ways to do this, but I have my “ Ah ha!” moment.  I could use my makey makey kit to take this to a whole new level, and actually create deeper engagement for my students!

 

This is how my idea came about.  I started out with an attempt to create a forceplate type of stopwatch for use in a lesson I have coming up.  This idea is still in the process, but I was unable to find the materials I needed to make this a long term usable item, and so I changed my plans.  I was unable to go thrifting, but I was able to raid my coworkers desk, and found a metal chopstick and though this would be a fun tool to use.  The great thing about this creation is…. Well I will tell you that in my video, so please watch it!  Watch my video below as I discuss the design of my “creation” and the purpose of it.

 

 

A how-to for those of you interested in creating something simple.

 

First, get your makey makey board and plug it in to your computer.  You take the USB portion of the cord and put it in your USB outlet of the computer, the smaller end of your cord then goes into the MakeyMakey board.

 

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Second, you take any alligator clip cord you want ( I chose black to keep it easily recognizable), and attach it to the “Earth” at the bottom of the MakeyMakey board.

 

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Next you attach a different alligator clip cord to the “Space” portion of your MakeyMakey board and attach the other end to what you want to use as your button ( I used a metal chopstick)

 

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Finally, I attached a new alligator clip cord to the down arrow portion of the MakeyMakey board and to my metal Yeti cup.

 

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Now that your creation is complete you must do some work with your software.  I used Xnote stopwatch (Link) for my stopwatch software because it instantly integrates with Excel which is useful for me to do calculations, recording, and comparisons.

 

After downloading the stopwatch I had to set up my “Hotkeys” to do this you right click on the stopwatch that pops up on your screen after downloading it, select “Hotkeys..”, place the cursor inside the space for “Start/Stop” and tap the space bar on your keyboard.  You then do the same for Snap by selecting area next to Snap and pressing the down arrow on the keyboard.  You can leave reset blank or you can enter a hot key for this as well depending on preference of user.  You exit this by selecting OK.

 

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Finally open an excel sheet on your computer and then right click the stopwatch and select “Excel Integration” and selecting the circle next to Spreadsheet and start cell below, and then selecting your opened excel book. Then select OK.  You are now ready to begin your activity.

I tested on myself basic reflexes to test the functionality of my new creation. Having a partner say go and touching the chopstick to start the timer, touching the yeti and touching the chopstick to stop the time. Seeing how quick my movement was from chopstick to yeti.  I also had a partner touch the chopstick without me seeing, but when I registered the movement I touched the yeti to record my reflex time.  Many other uses for this are possible, below are some ideas for this creation, as well as what I discussed in my video.

 

Thanks for your time, I would love to hear any feedback or thoughts!

 

References

 

Mishra, P., & The Deep-Play Research Group (2012). Rethinking Technology & Creativity in the 21st Century: Crayons are the Future. TechTrends, 56(5), 13-16.

 

 

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