Monday, 30 May 2016

Becoming A Maker with the Makey Makey

My son Ryan screamed with excitement the minute I pulled the Makey Makey out of my school bag. Apparently he had watched an advertisement for it on VAT 19 (some YouTube show, one of many that I do not follow!). He quickly pulled it up for me to see and told me that he wanted me to do what they were doing in the video. Little does he realize that the cool tricks that he sees in videos require time and patience to learn and perfect.

We started by checking out the Makey Makey website: I wanted to read as much as I could before I dove in and Ryan wanted to replicate what was happening in the videos. You could clearly see our different learning styles emerging, he a child of the YouTube generation, and me, clearly a child of the 80’s, looking for written text to tell me what to do.

Our problems started almost immediately. This was not a result of the Makey Makey. It’s obvious that it is going to be a great addition to the Enrichment & Innovation Centre where I work. The problem is that it requires the user to trouble -shoot, problem-solve, think outside the box, be innovative, the list is endless!

So why might I say we had problems? Well, trouble -shooting, problem solving and being innovative require skills such as patience, perseverance, determination, and the ability to accept failure and dive back in again! It is these skills that my eight year old son still needs to further develop. The unfortunate side of the videos that he watches is that it is the end product that is shown and marketed. The process of getting there is not always shown and if it is shown it is after the creator of the video has ironed out many of the kinks.

Ryan wanted the glory without the work. Despite my efforts to make him his own game pad on which he could play Flappy Birds, I lost his interest as soon as I had to fiddle with getting proper conductors of electricity. Off he went to watch YouTube or play Minecraft (a game I love, but he is very familiar and comfortable with).

I started out the day thinking that I was going to learn about the Makey Makey (I’ll write more on this later) and instead found myself reflecting on why we need to bring back the maker culture of our grandparents era. It is through making that we develop a variety of skills that transfer into all areas of our lives. If you were to ask me the curriculum that the Makey Makey covers I could make many links to the Grade 6 Electricity unit, but that’s not it’s major selling feature. It’s endless possibilities provide kids and adults with a hands on way to develop perseverance, determination, grit, and problem solving skills. If you are willing to develop these skills then you will love the Makey Makey.

For now, Ryan returns to the world of Agario and Slitherio, two games I can’t quite understand (however, in my youth I loved Burger Time!). I can’t harp too long on his lack of persistence when it came to the Makey Makey, in other areas of his life he does show those skills. I could BLOG so much about Ryan’s determination to be the best baseball player he can be! That sounds like a post for another day - How can we transfer skills we are able to use in one situation  to another? (perseverance to master a skill in baseball to persevering to make a working circuit for Makey Makey).