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Review of Makey Makey: A Fun, Affordable Invention Kit (Available on Amazon Launchpad)

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Makey Makey is a unique circuit board that turns ordinary objects into computer controllers. This gadget was conceived by two students, Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, as a school project advised by Mitch Resnick at the MIT Media Lab. Makey Makey is created by inventors for inventors, and by ‘inventors’ they mean:

“You, me, your kids, your friends… anyone who was once a kid and has some imagination left in there to be dug out and rediscovered.”

To share this fun device with the world, the Joylabz team launched a Kickstarter campaign, which raised $569,106 from over 11K backers in June 2012.

In May 2015, they launched a campaign for Makey Makey GO, the keychain version of their popular invention kit, which ultimately raised $197,151 from over 3.9K backers.

Jay Silver from Joylabz got the idea for Makey Makey when he was studying invention kits at MIT, he explained during a 2013 Ted Talk. He noticed that when adults invent things with everyday objects, it gives them the freedom to shape their reality in a way that was lost when they ‘grew up’.

Since adults already know how everything works, many of them can’t imagine how things could work, which is an important feature of being an inventor. This type of imagination is really an art form, and combining computers with using everyday objects in new ways helps us get those wheels turning again.

Joylabz’ message is inspiring and has adults and children alike enjoying their kits. It shows us that we CAN be agents of change. You CAN determine how the things in your world work. After seeing the power that the Makey Makey has to inspire creativity, they even included this message on their packaging:

“Warning: Extended usage may result in creative confidence.”

How the Makey Makey Works

This invention kit is super easy to use. So much so that both adults and children can have tons of fun with it. All you have to do is:

1. Connect the Makey Makey to your computer with the provided USB cable

2. Connect a cable to the ‘earth’ bar at the bottom of the Makey Makey

3. Use the rest of the alligator clips to assign different functions to electrically conductive objects

These functions can be reprogrammed on their website and used with a wide variety of computer programs to do virtually anything!

The Makey Makey GO plugs directly into your computer. It can accommodate one alligator clip, which connects to one conductive object that you can use for several purposes. Take selfies, play games, and control the world around you in whatever way you can think of!

My Makey Makey Experience

As someone who knows very little about circuit boards and invention kits, setting the Makey Makey up was easy. It really is fun too – within 15 minutes of opening mine, I was playing with food like a kid. A week later I bought some play dough to play with some other ideas.

I quickly set up the Makey Makey and used the space function in Microsoft Word, used it in my yoga practice, made a piano out of apple slices, and played Tetris with coins as arrow keys. I discovered that clipping an alligator cable to one of my rings is a great way to ‘ground’ me during these experiments.

Makey Makey Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Fun
  • Tons of possibilities
  • Teaches people about electric circuits
  • Encourages creativity and imagination

Cons:

  • Reprogramming the Makey Makey (mainly the extra functions on the back) is a bit confusing

You can check out the Makey Makey on Amazon.

Cool Makey Makey Creations

Makey Makey has done a great job promoting the people who use their products. Their website features a long list of project ideas to inspire new Makey Makey users. Here are a few of my favorite Makey Makey creations:

1. The Screaming Carrot

This project is a simple example of how to use the Makey Makey, and it’s a cute one.

For this project, the creator connected the knife to a scream sound effect.

The sound effect is triggered when they cut into the carrot, which is connected to an ‘earth’ wire.

2. Interactive Garden

GigglingGlobe shared a fun interactive garden designed to help kids rediscover the fun of playing and exploring outdoors.

Since young children play inside more than ever before, they decided to take a computer and Makey Makey outside.

They connected it so that plants and puddles would make funny sounds when the kids touched them.

3. Glove for Child with CP

One dad had an ingenious idea to use the Makey Makey to create a glove for his son with cerebral palsy. This plan was so his son could play games on the computer and surf the web since he has limited motor skills and cannot use a regular keyboard.

Conclusion

The Makey Makey is a great invention because it encourages us to think outside of the box. With this invention, adults and children can explore their surroundings and even work together to create new things and share them with the world.

Since launching on Kickstarter, Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum have started a movement, where people are finding new solutions to old problems and seeing possibilities where they didn’t before. What is more awesome and creative than that?

You can look into the Makey Makey on Amazon here.

Kickstarter is a platform that thrives on encouraging creative projects. When you think about it that way, the implications of Makey Makey are HUGE. Not only is this a creative project made by creators but it also helps brings more creators to life. I personally can’t wait to see what the Joylabz team does next.

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Krystine Therriault

Journalist & Blogger at CrowdCrux
Krystine Therriault is a journalist, blogger, and the community manager for CrowdCrux. She loves learning about new trending projects and dissecting them to bring new tips and information to creators.
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  • great idea 🙂

  • Tom Heck

    Thank you Krystine for a great article. At Makey Makey I help K12 educators across the US and around the world learn how to teach Invention Literacy, Making, and Design Thinking using the Makey Makey. Video of the Makey Makey educator workshop is here: https://youtu.be/PouWbbb9Geg