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October 19, 2014

Makey, Makey...(1)

At Isai Ambalam school we had set up the computer center and this year I was looking at how to best utilize this for the older children (6th and 8th graders) at the school. We have been working with Scratch programming for math concepts and more recently for creating games with English.

Regine is volunteering with us at the school and observed some of the classes got a very interesting gadget called the makey, makey from her friends to see what we could do with it in the school.

The idea of makey, makey is so simple that it adds to elegance of thought to come up with it. It notices if a circuit is complete and sends a signal to the computer that it knows well - the space bar, left, right, up, down arrow keys and a mouse click. Not very interesting in itself, but the subtle part is that it can detect even a large resistance closing the circuit. This makes it possible for it to detect a human body, a banana, a leaf, etc to close the circuit and lets it interact with objects from the outside world not associated with the computer.

The picture above is me playing a drum and a guitar string with each banana using Scratch.

Technically you need to hold one wire in your hand and play with the other hand. 
But, in our class the grounding of the computer room was quite good and since we leave our footwear out we were completing the circuit by simply letting our feet touch the ground. this meant that anyone could just touch the banana and get a space registered which meant in scratch could make a drum beat.

Of course the children were not convinced that it was the ground completing the loop and they pulled up their feet sitting on the plastic chairs and checked. Luckly the internet had been shut down due to heavy rains and we have to open scratch and create our own programs, choice of music and notes.
Once the kids were comfortable with what they were doing they asked the other teachers to come and try out the musical instruments.

Now, we will build on it and see what else is possible. One child has promised to work on a burglary alarm, another is making a full piano, lets see.

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