Makey Makey is a fantastic tool to teach STEM to children. However, there is a problem: kids are in the process of learning how to control their strength and Makey Makey is a relatively fragile device, so it's not unusual to find boards with broken parts after class. And if that happens in a regular lesson with 8 kids, what can you expect if you have to deal with 200 hungry-for-knowledge-and-fun kids during a whole morning?
I work for Engineering for Kids Azerbaijan. We were invited to have a stand in the Science Fair of a big school in the region, so kids would see the lessons we are offering and register in our classes. And Hardware Engineering with Makey Makey is one of our funniest lessons to show. I had to think in a fast way to protect the board from impacts, "curious hands" and accidental wire pulls, but keeping the Makey Makey visible for advertising purposes. The result: a case that looks like a video games console, using cheap materials. The cost of this project is not more than 7 dollars (excluding Makey Makey, computer and Dremel).
Because I choose a game where kids have to hit potatoes and the word for "mashed potatoes" sounds very similar in Spanish, Azerbaijani and Russian, I call it "Pure Station" :-)
Step 1: Materials and Recomendations
You will need the following:
- Makey Makey kit.
- Foam Double sided tape.
- Crystal box from Ferrero Rocher chocolates (gift pack of 16 pieces).
- Plastic half case from a broken PC, video game console, Blu-Ray or any other appliance.
- Key ring
- According to the activity you will demonstrate in public: computer, vegetables of your choice (in this case, potatoes), pre-loaded videogame, extra wires, alligator clips,
Tools: Dremel rotary tool, pliers.
BEFORE STARTING: Determinate which Makey Makey activity you will execute and modify the number of holes and possible modifications according to that. This case was made for a game where I needed 3 key cables + 1 earth cable + USB cable.
Step 2: Preparing the Case
Drill three holes, one for each wire of the project (key terminals in the board). Using the sanding cone, make them big enough to allow the wires to pass, but tight enough to retain the alligator clips it they are pulled too much.
Make a fourth hole for the Earth wire, far from the first three holes.
You can use the Makey Makey stickers to give more life to your project.
Step 3: Preparing the Cristal Box
Take the main part the Ferrero Rocher's box and stick a little piece of foam double side tape in each corner.
Prepare some tea and eat the chocolates.
Step 4: Assemble!
Stick the crystal box over the plastic case.
Step 5: Board
Determinate the exact position that every wire will have in the Makey Makey board. Then put a little piece of foam double side tape in some clear part of the board (but very little, or you will damage the board if you need to remove it from the box)
Step 6: Placing the Board
Stick the Makey Makey in the center of the crystal box.
Step 7: More Holes
Drill a hole in passing through the crystal box and the case, near the keys terminals (WASDFG) of the Makey Makey. Be very careful of not drilling to close, or you can damage the board.
Pass the wires connected to WASDFG through that hole.
Step 8: Connections
Connect the wires from the WASDFG terminals to the alligator clips of the external wires of Step 2.
Step 9: USB Cable
Drill a hole in the crystal box big enough to allow the connection of the USB cable.
Drill a hole in the plastic case, near the previous hole, so the USB cable can enter to the case.
Open another hole (or use any open part of the case) to take the cable out of the case and connect it to the computer.
Step 10: Earth Wire
Do the same process for the Earth wire: drill the case, pass the cable through the hole and connect it to the external Earth cable.
Step 11: Making the Controller, Connect Aaaaaaaannnnddd... Finished!
Connect the potatoes to the wires from WASDFG. Put a metallic ring in the cable from Earth. That ring will be wore by the player, to complete the circuit every time he touches the potatoes.
(My first test was with a long spring as ring, but I found it very uncomfortable. So I changed it for the key ring. More practical, ergonomic and safe.)
Connect the computer, start the game and be ready to show some scientific fun for hundreds of kids!