We’ve used Scratch a lot recently but when we were introduced to ‘MakeyMakey‘ last session, it took on another dimension. This is a small piece of tech kit that plugs into a computer, via a USB cable, which then allows you to replace the cursor keys, spacebar and mouse click with any objects that will conduct electricity, you, me, a banana, play dough.. the list is endless. As long as it is a conductor, and you are in contact with the earth on it, it will work as a replacement to the original keys, so you can play Pacman on bananas.
MaKey MaKey – An Invention Kit for Everyone from jay silver on Vimeo. This extra versatility, and I’ll be honest, random fun element gave some basic games a whole new attraction. Working with Gemma Young, we found a simple dance mat game and decided to adjust it by using the MakeyMakey kit and play dough to replace the cursor keys, and then added in extra elements. The original game only used the left/right cursors, so we decided to add in the up and down ones too.
This involved clicking on the existing sprites, duplicating them, then changing two variables, the “Key pressed” instruction (change to the up/down cursors) and than rotating the arrow direction script (highlighted in red). After doing this twice the only other thing that needed adding in was duplicating the ‘Stage’ scripts to include the new clones. While doing this we had the idea of adding in variable arrow numbers (1-10) and randomising the time between the arrow. These commands were hidden within the ‘operator’ scripts and needed dropping onto the existing timing scripts. I have highlighted these on the next two screenshots.
This piece of kit is very usable with children in school, with KS1 you could use a pre created game and get them to create controllers, or even make a musical instrument, with KS2 you could get them to Remix a game, much as we did, it isn’t overly difficult, just needs a bit of patience, and logic. If you search for ‘Makey Makey’ in scratch, there are loads of games that have been created to play with this versatile system. For me, one of the main reasons to use Makey Makey and scratch with children is that it involves all of the key elements of the new computing curriculum. They will program, debug, fix algorithms, create and learn to post these games up for others to experience and learn from.
Hope you enjoy the finished game