The MicroMakers Holiday Code Camp was a four-day program at Bulimba State School, organised by Coding Kids.  Students attended three-hour sessions every day from Monday (July 3) to Thursday (July 6), where they learned how to code, how to make games in Scratch, and how to use the MaKey MaKey board as an interactive game controller.

First of all, what is MaKey MaKey? MaKey MaKey is a creation kit that aims to repurpose the world from mundane, everyday objects into anything from a game console, to a piano, to a human synthesizer. It encourages students to find creative ways to replace computers and mice with everyday objects. It is a fantastic tool for bringing out the inventive streak in students.

Through MaKey MaKey, students learned about closed and open loop circuits, the architecture of a simple circuit board, conductivity and non-conductivity, and much more. MaKey MaKey proved to be an engaging way of showing students the pleasure and advantages of learning about the basic principles of electronics.

Across the week, students learned the basics of Scratch. After they were able to proficiently make games, they were introduced to MaKey MaKey.  Using both their knowledge of Scratch and MaKey MaKey, they were able to create a musical instrument. They created a melody in Scratch that could be played by using the arrow keys and spacebar, and later used MaKey MaKey to create an interface out of various conductive and nonconductive items.

Students tested out different materials such as fruits, vegetables, lollies and graphite drawing of a keyboard on a piece of cardboard.

On the final day, students were asked to use the knowledge that they’d accumulated across the week create their own games. They made their own games on Scratch, using MaKey MaKey to develop unconventional controllers out of everyday objects as opposed to typical keyboards.

A number of exciting projects came out of the students’ efforts. One was a game named “Space Clash”, which had the player using the arrow keys and the spacebar to manoeuvre a spaceship around obstacles in space in an effort to reach the moon. Another student tried to recreate Pac-Man, using MaKey MaKey in conjunction with fruit to move Pac-Man through the maze. Racing Mania! was an interesting game that involved keeping a car on the track until the player reached the finish line.

The students thoroughly enjoyed their classes, and showed a particular fondness for using MaKey MaKey. Not only did students have a fantastic time experimenting with everyday objects to make unconventional interfaces, they were able to learn a lot about the basics of circuits and gain insight into how computers actually work. Their engagement in the camp was heartening to witness, and I daresay that more than a few of them enjoyed their four-day stint as electrical engineers!

By Elnaz Karimpour