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Design & Engineering > Electrical Engineering

MAKEY MAKEY

Reimagine uses for everyday objects by turning them into a video game controller, keyboard, piano, or whatever you can imagine.

grade level:
K-12
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Created by
Agustin Molfino
Curriculum Writer

Overview

MaKey MaKey is a circuit board kit that can be used to connect objects with a computer, transforming those objects into computer keys or mouse clicks. With MaKey MaKey, students can playfully invent new devices, instruments, and controllers, or remix familiar objects - as long as they are adequately conductive. For example, bananas can become pianos, or Play-Doh can be shaped into Nintendo controllers. With these inventions, students learn about the fundamentals of circuits and gain insight into how their computers work.

MaKey MaKey allows for the easy creation of basic circuits and gets students familiar with the basic components of a circuit (power source, wires, input and output) and how circuits interact with computers. Since MaKey MaKey also hooks up to computers, the possibilities are limitless for students interested in getting more experimental. Students can find new programs to control and new objects to use as controls, as well as design new software that can interact with the kit. In this way, MaKey MaKey acts as both an introduction to circuits and a tool for invention. This extends the learning goals of MaKey MaKey to computer programming, engineering and design, and art.

The MaKey MaKey website provides suggested software to use with MaKey MaKey.

Kit includes:
  • MaKey MaKey circuit board
  • Red USB Cable
  • 7 Alligator Clips
  • 6 Connector Wires
  • Quick start guide

Instructions:

  1. Plug in USB: Small side of USB cable plugs into MaKey MaKey, big side plugs into computer.
  2. Close Popup Window: Your computer may ask you to install drivers or do other setup. You can click cancel or close the window.
  3. Connect to Earth: Connect one end of an alligator clip to "Earth" on the bottom of the front side of MaKey MaKey.
  4. Connect to yourself: Hold the metal part of the other end of the alligator clip between your fingers. You are now "grounded."
  5. Connect to anything: Make anything into a key! Connections can be made through anything even slightly conductive.

makey makey breakdown

Ease of Use:

Each kit contains a “Getting Started” card, which provides easy-to-follow instructions that introduce the user to the basic operations of the kit. More advanced experimentation (using the Arduino board section) will require time for experimentation or seeking out more detailed instruction.

Mechanics:

Each kit contains a circuit board, seven alligator clips for connecting the board to objects, a USB cable for power and computer connectivity, and six connector wires for additional functionality. No software installation is required. Alligator clips hook onto designated places on the circuit board and then are clipped onto conductive objects (such as bananas or Play-Doh). These objects are transformed into input devices or controllers, depending on the intended use (keyboard, instrument, game pad, etc.). Objects can act as the arrow, spacebar, or enter keys. Additional wires are provided to modify the circuit board even further, allowing objects to become the WASD keys, as well as a mouse. The kit is compatible with any software that uses a keyboard, online or offline. For instance, you can make a controller out of Play-Doh and play a web-based version of Super Mario. 

The below video shows users how to use MaKey MaKey, in addition to providing inventive and creative uses for the kit.

MaKey MaKey

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