Makey Makey+ Online TechyKids Course
Makey Makey is a programmable circuit board kit for ages 6 and up that comes with a wide variety of components, wires, and alligator clips, and includes a companion course help children learn electronics skills quickly. The companion course walks children through the coding process using Scratch, a visual programming language often used for introductory coding education. TechyKids offers several “starter” programs that are already available to engage the children quickly, and also includes visual tutorials on set-up and troubleshooting. Scratch is an intuitive visual programming language that allows children to drag and drop blocks that control Makey Makey. For practice, the web interface allows the children to program within the browser and control virtual components, so there is no hassle in debugging hardware and software. The course isn’t strictly necessary to learn to use the toy, however, and Makey Makey can be used with any Scratch editor. Additionally, MIT’s website offers a lot of demo games and an editor for free.
Makey Makey engages children in several ways. From a hardware perspective, they have to design circuits and make sure everything is plugged in properly (and doesn’t overlap). From the software side, children learn to program visually, and can map the keys to different functions than they come preloaded with. It certainly encourages logical thinking, as well as creative and critical thinking when designing and debugging programs. On the front of Makey Makey are places for the alligator clips to attach, and on the back there are additional pins (not for alligator clips) that are available to map to whatever the child wants. Out of the box, it comes preloaded to respond like a game controller - which is one of the popular uses of the toy. The gift also does have a couple drawbacks; it’s easy to knock alligator clips off their leads, and with the number of loose wires that go into even a simple circuit, it would be good to give users a primer on cable management.. Once you have all of the cables plugged in (on the front and back) it can be very confusing where the cables all lead. Additionally, some of the cables are alligator-style clips, and others are simple wires with stripped ends. An electronics kit with long wires or cable management would be a good supplement to the toy. Overall, especially with the included course for guidance, it is a very good toy and course that offers a lot to learn, and a number of possibilities to expand upon.
Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about: define a problem, learn about a problem, idea generation, plan a solution, create a prototype or process, test the solution, analyze the solution, make improvements to the solution, apply mathematics skill, apply science knowledge
Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A problem to be solved, criteria, constraints
Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: computational thinking, critical thinking, creative thinking, programming/coding, evidence-based reasoning, design, problem solving, perseverance, logical thinking, iterative design
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Engineering and STEM Experts Reviews
- Rating: 5.0 out of 5.0
- Overall a great toy. The website is a little difficult to navigate and some of the links are broken/mismatched (redirect incorrectly), but other than that, it is a very good toy.