Can you #RepeatTheBeat?

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What is a Maker Faire?  That is the question I asked myself the first time I heard those words used in my MAET courses. Naturally, we dove deeply into that question through a QuickFire.  Basically, a Maker Faire is where people come together to show off creativity and invention in the form of a project that they have created.  As a culmination of our study of the maker movement, the MAET year 1 cohort put on their own Maker Faire.  Our purpose was to create a fun, tech-infused maker project for the all ages highlighting how to use basic science and a few materials to do so.

I worked in a group of three with Chelsea and Rosie as my partners.  We used a Makey Makey kit and Play-doh to create an interactive Simon game.  We struggled a little bit with coming up with a concept, but once we made a decision, things flowed pretty smoothly.  We had a few guinea pigs that we were able to try our creation out on before the faire and they gave us some great feedback.  We were able to tweak things before the actual Maker Faire.

For our game, here’s what you had to do.  On the computer screen was a Simon game.  The player had to listen and watch which color lit up and made noise and then push that color Play-doh.  With each round, another color was added to the sequence and the player had to remember the entire sequence and push the Play-doh in the correct order.  The object of the game was to get the highest score by remembering the longest pattern.  It may sound simple, but it takes a lot of concentration and is not as easy as it sounds.  The highest scoring individual got a 25, which is quite impressive!  We had friendly competition, complete with a scoreboard to record the top five results.  We also used the app, Scorekeeper, to record all results on an iPad.

Does this game sound like fun?  Here’s how you can recreate it.

Supplies that you will need:

  • Makey Makey Kit (purchase it online here)
    • comes with the board and necessary alligator clips
  • Play-doh: four colors-red, blue, green, yellow for the board, one different color for start button
  • Shoe box lid 
  • Construction paper
  • Tin foil 
  • Conductive thread ( purchase on Amazon)
  • Glue stick
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Computer
  • Headphones
  • Website (https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/69597388/)

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Step 1: On your computer, bring up the website https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/69597388/.  This is the Simon game.  Start is controlled by the space bar and the colors are controlled by the arrow keys.  Up arrow is blue, down arrow is green, left arrow is red and right arrow is yellow. Press the space key to start.

Step 2: Connect the orange USB cable that comes with the Makey Makey kit to the board that also comes in the kit.  Connect the other end of the USB cable to your computer.  Your computer should recognize it automatically and there will be no need to click anything else on the computer.  Once hooked up, this board will control the arrows and space bar on your computer.

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Step 3: Connect the alligator clips to the Makey Makey board. (ProTip: It is easiest to connect the same color alligator clip to the arrow button that controls that color on the computer. ie: Connect the blue alligator clip to the up arrow.)  Also, connect another clip to the space bar section on the board.  You will also connect a sixth alligator clip to the spot labeled “Earth” on the Makey board.  Leave the other ends of all the alligator clips open for now.

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Step 4:  Take a shoe box lid and cover it with construction paper.  On one of the longer edges, cut out an opening that will allow you to slide the Makey Makey underneath and allow the wires to come out.

Step 5: Take the shoe box lid and punch four holes far enough apart but in a square like pattern.  You will be placing your “Play-doh buttons” over top of these holes.  Punch a fifth hole somewhere off to the side for your “start button”.

Step 6: Take the alligator clips and wedge them into the holes making sure to connect the right color to where it’s located on the Simon board (use the computer screen as reference).  (ProTip: Cover the ends of the alligator clips in a little piece of tin foil so the Play-doh does not stick and harden on your alligator clips.)_MG_3391

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Step 7: Take the Play-doh, a handful of each color, and form it into a thick rectangular shape.  Place the correct color Play-doh over the hole where you wedged the alligator clip into.  Push the alligator clip into the Play-doh so it is secure.  (Play-doh is conductive and you need the alligator clips to always be touching it.)  Take your fifth color Play-doh and form it into a start button.  Place this over top the hole off to the side.

Step 8: Take the alligator clip that is connected to the “Earth” spot on the Makey board and attach conductive thread to it.  Then wrap it around the glue stick and secure by taping it to the glue stick and also wrapping the entire stick in tin foil.  This will act as the person’s grounder.  (ProTip:  Also connect thread from that same alligator clip to a piece of tin foil on the floor.  This would allow people to step on the tin foil with their bare foot and use that as their grounder.  People can choose either hand or foot.  It’s good to give options.)

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The Earth clip is the reason why the Makey Makey works. It is a circuit, and the person playing is basically a connection in the circuit. Therefore, when a player is either holding the grounder, or stepping on the tinfoil, and then simultaneously pressing the Play-doh, the circuit is complete and the game works. How cool is that?!

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Step 9: Your game is almost complete.  Now that all your clips are hooked up, take your board and position it under the_MG_3410 shoe box so your station looks pretty.

Step 10: PLAY!  You will need to be grounded (remember either hand or foot) when pressing the Play-doh to repeat the pattern.  When you are grounded, you pushing on the Play-doh completes the circuit. Check out some of the pictures of people playing in the slideshow below.  You will notice that some are holding onto the tinfoil glue stick.  If you see them playing and they do not have that in their hand, that means they chose to put their foot on the tinfoil on the ground. (ProTip: This game takes a lot of concentration.  You may want to use headphones when playing to eliminate background noise.)

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If you’re still unsure about by how and why the Makey Makey works, Ryan Hunt gives a great explanation (in our game, we used Play-doh instead of apples).  I hope you enjoy creating your own version of this Simon game.  With a Makey Makey, the possibilities are endless.  You just never know what you might develop.  In fact, maybe you’ll even show your own activity at a Maker Faire some day!

References:

Hunt, R. (2014, May 12).  How does a Makey Makey work? [web log post]. Retrieved August 2, 2015, from http://dhmakerbus.com/2014/05/12/how-does-a-makey-makey-work/

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