Makey Makey Me Some Problem Solving

  I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday! Mine is still filled with family, friends, and really cool new toys. One toy I have been in love with is a Makey Makey set my Sister got me for Christmas. I had been looking at this for a long time but came to the conclusion I would never buy it for myself, she got it for me this Christmas. If you are unfamiliar with Makey Makey visit: www.makeymakey.com . 

   The kit is basically is a circuit board programed to act like a game controller. You hook the circuit board using a USB cable to your computer and it acts like an alternative keyboard. Using alligator clips you connect to the board and then electrical conducting materials to the other end. When the circuit is complete you can use the software  Makey Makey has designed on their website to use your new controller with. 

After playing with this sweet toy my geeky side came out and I began to think..this would be a fantastic demonstration for our District STEM Committee! STEM for those who do not know is a newer educational initiative standing for ScienceTechnologyEngineeringMathematics. ( http://www.stemedcoalition.org ) way of integrating all 4 areas into the classroom to promote critical thinking, problem solving, and encourage career paths into those 4 areas (especially with female students.) We have a district committee based entirely on that initiative and helping educators in our district bring more of it into all of our schools. 

A newer initiative that is being petitioned is to turn STEM into STEAM, adding Arts into the mix. Now STEM has been around for a few years, STEAM being captained by the Rhode Island School for Design is trying to prove that the Arts are needed at the center for this STEM initiative to promote the integration of Arts and Design and influence employers that they need to hire artists and designers to drive innovation. ( http://stemtosteam.org )

     Now having been in both worlds of STEM and STEAM (I’m a computer nerd, car junkie, with electrical experience who is a musician who likes to craft and create artwork on the side.) I see both sides to this argument. I know from an Arts standpoint promoting creativity and innovation for our future is a must. STEM will only go so far, its the being able to think outside the box and emotional connections that the Arts teaches will create well rounded children who will go out into the world and will make it better. It will promote careers in areas such as Music Technology, Graphic Design, and so many more new career paths that are created every day. On the other side of it, there has been such a drop in students going into careers in the 4 STEM subjects, especially females. When I was in college working at the computer help desk. I got a good look into the computer science department workings (almost switched majors my freshman year!) and the lack of females was scary, there is a need to promote these careers and the systematic and problem solving thinking they teach. To come up with solutions through a step by step process, to promote how to come up with multiple solutions and test each hypothesis until the correct solution is found, to learn how to be able to research the proper ways. It has a purpose, STEM and the Arts promote to each their own. Now for those of you who are reading and thinking I am on the STEM or STEAM side..I’M ON NEITHER..I have researched both and understand both sides. I am an Arts person so if it came down to it I would be with STEAM, but, I know and understand both reasonings and am just typing this to educate and not champion.

        Now back to those Makey Makeys

Like my whip cream piano? I created that using the Makey Makey kit! I had to find a conductor for the piano program, and whip cream was just one experiment. Then I had to make sure I completed the circuit before I experimented to find out how Jingle Bells worked on it.

So I:

  • Used the scientific process to create an experiment
  • Problem solved when my circuit wasn’t working
  • Designed my whip cream piano
  • Used my creativity to find a unique conductor
  • Put my technology skills to work using the program on the website to create the circuit and use the program.

Perfect STEM or STEAM project right? There can be so many projects out there that can be STEM projects involving the Arts. This simple project involved all of that. What project could you do in class that could be STEM projects integrating the Arts into it?

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