There is currently a huge push by parents and educators to include more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) opportunities both during the school day and in extracurricular activities. With the appropriate tools and a little adult guidance, STEM activities can be very exploratory and elicit great problem solving skills as well as creativity.

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Life of a Southern Mom recently had the pleasure of working with JoyLabz on a review of their MakeyMakey Invention Kit. MakeyMakey is a product to help people of all ages become inspired to explore their creativity, imagination, and inventiveness. They have designed a kit which provides most of the materials you will need to create fun projects and activities at home!

makeymakey kit

When I first heard about MakeyMakey, I had no idea what it was. I kept reading about how great it was for STEM, creativity, and could be used with any number of common household objects. However, I did not have a good grasp on what it actually was. For that reason, I will explain the purpose of the kit first and then show a sample project to illustrate how it works.

Basically, MakeyMakey allows you to use the touch of physical objects instead of pressing buttons on your keyboard. You are simply replacing certain keys on your computer keyboard with items. This functionality can be used with any computer program that accepts keystrokes as input. For example, if you play a game that moves a character with the left and right arrow keys, you could replace pressing those keyboard keys by touching other objects which you set up with MakeyMakey.

Here is how it works: There is a circuit board which plugs into your computer with a USB cable (shown in red). This is what sends signals to the computer. There is a black wire (ground, shown in black) which is clipped to the person using the kit. This must touch your skin or something conductive which is touching your body. There are seven alligator clips (example shown in white and green) which clip to the circuit board in the location you would like them to control. In the sample shown, we are using the left arrow key (green) and the space bar (white).

makeymakey board

The other end of the alligator clips are attached to whatever you would like to touch instead of your keyboard. We used bananas. You can literally use anything that is the least bit conductive. Play dough, coins, people, produce, this is where your imagination comes in to play!

makeymakey banana

We tried this with the basic Banana Bongos. On MakeyMakey’s website, there is a bongos page. If you press the left arrow, the large bongo will play and if you press the space bar the small bongo will play. With the Invention Kit, you can replace those keys with objects, in this case, bananas. Once you have the kit set up, you will tap on your bananas and each tap will cause the bongos to play!

makeymakey bongo

As the banana attached to the left arrow key control is pressed, the corresponding bongo plays.

Although we used it with a very simple program, the MakeyMakey Invention Kit can be used with any program or website. You can play video games, you can make music, again, your imagination sets the only limits to what you can use your kit to accomplish. This would make a really fun holiday gift for anyone interested in creating inventions, using computers, and laughing a lot! Imagine how funny it would be for a child to play bongos using his/her parents’ heads! To order your MakeyMakey Invention Kit, visit their website here. To see some of the great inventions people have designed, check out the MakeyMakey creations here.

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Southern Carolina Family