The Makey Makey Gelatin Keyboard

The Makey Makey May Term class focused around the ideas of invention, creativity and imagination. Students were given a Makey Makey (a simple pre-programed circuit board that lets users control a computer by using alligator clips and anything that is conductive). Students were taught the elements of basic design, and circuitry. After field trips to RIT’s MAGIC Center and The Kate Gleeson College of Engineering, students were asked to put their creative skills to the test. For their final projects, students had to use the Makey Makey to create a project that was original. One project that really stuck out was “The Gelatin Keyboard”. The two eighth graders responsible for that creation wrote about their experiences with the Makey Makey.

How did you decide to create a keyboard made of Jello/Gelatin?

Francesca wanted to make a keyboard and I wanted to incorporate Jello/Gelatin into our project. Therefore, we came up with a Gelatin keyboard. –Alison

We wanted to make something fun but it seemed like everyone was making game controllers. We decided to make the thing itself fun to use or play with instead of what it is doing. I guess you could say that games are more fun than typing, but I think the keyboard was really fun to use. –Francesca

Why did you change from store bought Jello to Gelatin?

We were telling Mrs. Oliveri (our art teacher) that our jello was not firming up so well and that we were worried that our project was going to fail. She gave us a recipe to a strong gelatin modeling material that was made of glycerin, gelatin, water, and rubbing alcohol. –Alison

The Jello was taking too long and once it was done, it wasn’t strong enough. The gelatin took a lot less time to make (if you did it right) but it was also at least 10 times stronger. If you wanted to mold it to a certain shape, all you had to do was put it in the microwave and then let it sit for a while to harden so that part was fairly easy as well. –Francesca

How was your project made better by collaboration?

An idea would get better with each other’s positive and negative opinions. That idea would form into something great that we were both happy with. –Alison

Each person is creative in their own way and the more different creative ideas you can have the better. Sometimes you don’t agree on how to do something, but you try both and one definitely works better, but if you just had your own idea it might not have worked. I don’t think our project would’ve been able to work if there weren’t two of us, collaboration is key. –Francesca

What would have changed about your final project?

I would have hidden some of the wires better to make it look better. –Alison

I don’t think I would change anything about our final project, maybe a few things in the process, but I really like how it turned out. –Francesca

Did it work out the way you hoped it would?

It worked out even better than I had hoped. I did not expect it to work so well. –Alison

It did, indeed every key ended up working so that was really good. I do think that it turned out better than what we were thinking of. Halfway throughout the process I was thinking whether or not we would have a final project, but we figured out the problems and it worked very well. –Francesca

What advice would you have for someone who was going to work with a Makey Makey for the first time?

You can make anything you want with Makey Makey you just need patience and a lot of wires. –Alison

Try everything. If you think of something, try it because that’s the point. There are no limits, maybe it won’t work the first time, but keep going. Also, be patient things may not happen the way you want them to and that can be good or bad but learn from your mistakes. –Francesca

For more about the Makey Makey May Term class, check out my previous post, Makey Makey and May Term.

Tech Tuesday 3.4.14 – What is Project-Based Learning?

I am a regular reader of some excellent blogs and I frequently come across some outstanding resources for teachers. Here are few about project-based learning. Enjoy!

What is Project Based Learning? Check out this Common Craft video:
“The Buck Institute for Education commissioned the cutting-edge advertising agency, Common Craft, to create a short animated video that explains in clear language the essential elements of Project Based Learning (PBL).”

“This simple video makes the essential elements of PBL come alive and brings to light the 21st Century skills and competencies (collaboration, communication, critical thinking) that will enable K-12 students to be college and work-ready as well as effective members of their communities.”

Do you have any favorite resources or blog posts? Share your favorites below in the comments section.

Tech Tuesday 12.17.13 – Canvas a Learning Management System (LMS)

We are currently investigating different Learning Management Systems (LMSs)  at Allendale Columbia School. The goal it to pilot one in our middle school next school year with school wide adoption during the following year. Many of our middle school teachers have been using the free version an LMS called Canvas this year. The free version of Canvas is not a scaled back version of the product it is the full complete LMS. The paid version provides district administrative functions for managing an entire school of users. You also get some branding controls.

Here is a link to the Canvas YouTube Channel. You can find examples of cool things that other schools and teachers are doing with Canvas.

Brett Eckelson, Canvas K12 Account Manager, provided a short overview and answered questions for our faculty last Thursday via webinar. He also shared some resources for our anyone interested in learning more about getting started with the free version of Canvas. Here are the links he provided.

Up next we will be looking at Haiku Learning.

What LMSs have you tried? What are important features that you would like to see in an LMS? Click here  “What is an LMS” overview video.

Tech Tuesday – 9.24.13 – Google Drive & Student Portfolios for the iPad

Special thanks to Anthony DiLaura for making this great video and letting me use it in this post.

The video shows you how to use Google Drive to create a nice workflow with your students. Anthony focuses on using the iPad, but the workflow using he describes will work great without the iPad too. I hope you all find it helpful.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, suggestions or ideas for future Tech Tuesday posts.

Tech Tuesday 9.10.13 – How to download YouTube videos

I get asked this question all the time, “How do I download a YouTube video?”

So, I made a short video that will help you.

The other question I get asked, “Why would you want to download a YouTube video?”

I like to download YouTube videos for a few different reasons. I don’t like to rely on the internet all time. What if the Internet goes down or the entire school is using it, it can be very slow. YouTube will put up recommended videos and ads during and at the end of a video. I don’t want to have to worry about what YouTube might recommend during a class with young children. Most of the time it’s ok, but you never know what might jump out on the screen.

Questions, comments and suggestions are always appreciated!