Sippican School students use 'MaKey MaKey' to create and learn

Jan 7, 2016

A cardboard drum set, video game controllers made of Play-Doh and chairs that play music when you sit down were some of the inventions cooked up at Sippican School’s newest after school program.

Using a grant from the Lighthouse Fund, school librarian Jessica Barrett purchased eight MaKey MaKey kits for students. The fund is designed to bolster educational opportunities in tri-town schools.

The kits include a small programming board, alligator clips and USB cables that connect to a computer, allowing students to conduct electricity using household items while fostering creativity and inventiveness along the way.

Twenty students gathered in the library every Monday in November and December to experiment with the kits. On Dec. 21, parents were invited to check out the innovative creations.

“It’s been a wonderful experience for the students,” said Barrett. “They really let their imaginations run wild.”

Barrett noted she wants to expand the after school group to include 28 participants when it starts up again in April.

“I want to get as many kids in here as possible,” she said.

Brothers Charlie and Henry Richards created a game of musical chairs where participants set off different piano notes depending on which seat they chose.

Aluminum foil pieces were attached to the alligator clips, which in turn were connected to a computer.

“The aluminum foil is conductive and when you sit on it, it completes an electrical circuit that tells the computer to make a sound,” explained Charlie.

Nearby, another group of students were playing with their creation, a set of video game controls made of Play-Doh.

Playing a Mario Brothers game, Logan Leblanc said his group of four used MaKey MaKey to set up controllers. Depending on which wire the Play-Doh was connected to, the controls moved the characters up, down, left and right.

Another group of young inventors used their kit to make some noise.

Lila Bangs, Ella Ceasar and Autumn Horsey made a cardboard drum set that sounded notes on their computer when struck.

The girls said they enjoyed the group and learned a lot about programming.

“It’s been great!” said Lila. “This is only limited by your imagination.”