Last summer, Rensselaer Academy teacher Mark Nizer discovered the organization “Cue” and their Cue STEAMPUNK mobile lab program. By joining the organization, teachers are eligible to use one of their mobile labs for one week at no charge. There are several kits to choose from – including Ozobots, Drones, Spheros, Makey Makey and more. Nizer chose the Makey Makey kit which allows students to create computer controllers out of everyday objects, and his class spent the last week in January exploring everything the kit had to offer.
Questar III Model Schools coordinator Carolyn Strauch visited the class and worked with Nizer’s students on the kits. The class created a start/stop button for YouTube videos by “fist bumping”, a piano of bananas, apples, modeling clay and aluminum foil, and game controllers for Super Mario Brothers out of Play-Doh.
Nizer says the kit was a good way to bring lessons to life for his students.
“The Makey Makey kit tied in with our unit on electronics and magnets as it allowed students to create a working circuit with objects and their bodies. Seeing these abstract concepts in action, using materials that are fun and familiar to them is a great way for my students to learn. Furthermore, the Makey Makey kits allowed students to be creative and innovate independently.”
Model Schools helps integrate technology into the classroom to benefit teachers and students. Strauch says while coding, robotics and in this case, Maker experiences can be new experiences for students, they tie the unknown experience (circuitry) with something they do know by playing a game or a piano.
“It took a concept and made it concrete and allowed for creativity. The students were able to problem solve and play in an environment where failure was allowed because the goal was to play the game. The goal was strong enough to help them through frustrations and new experiences. The students at RA did incredibly well with patience, cooperation and experimenting.”