Introduction: Makerspace's Robo-recruiter - Get the Answers to Your FAQs
I pitched to the school principal last year the idea of having an extra-curricular Makerspace class for students that were curious to know everything about every tool we have. So when he finally agreed I knew I had to grab all the students' attention to have many of them sign to it from the beginning!
But being so busy with classes and projects to do in the Makerspace I forgot about the workshops' expo! It was a small event where students could ask for info from the available extra-curricular options and sign up for them, and I wasn't ready.
So, to avoid printing a lot of flyers or explaining what the class was about to every student I came up with this small project in 30 minutes or less. The cool thing is that grabbed many student's attention as planned, and it was a success: 15 students signed up for the class right away!
Again, this is a simple project but one that could very well sit on its own and keep promoting your info when you're not there... left it a couple of days in the school library's and it worked great too.
- Makey Makey
- Alligator cables
- Aluminum foil
- MDF or carton
- Access to a laser cutter or a laser cutting service
Step 1: Design the Base
So this part was very simple because I had access to the Makerspace's laser cutter and material. If you don't have them available, you could start designing the base and get a laser cutting service to do the rest.
I used RD Works to do the design as it didn't had to be the prettiest. Marked the space for the aluminum foil and the Play-Doh and added some holes next to the latter for putting zip ties to hold the alligator cables.
Last but not least, I cut the pieces using 6mm MDF and a 100W CO2 laser cutter.
Step 2: Connect the Makey Makey
Before this, you need to put the aluminum foil and Play-Doh in their assigned areas (on Step 1 and 2, respectively).
For the alligator cables, I used small zip ties to keep the connections to the board in place, which is kind of the most annoying part of moving around a project like this. Cut the end of the zip ties so the board looks neat.
Then, it was time to connect the other ends of the cables to the Makey Makeys:
- Red cable to Left arrow
- White to Up
- Green to Right
- Orange to Down
- Yellow to Earth
Step 3: Coding Scratch
Once the Makey Makey is connected, it's time to code the responses.
I used a robot as a sprite, which is in Scratch's library. The background is also there, but I modified it to display the phrases "Welcome to the Makerspace class!" and "Hey, ask a question :)". The pixel font looked great for it, which is an option to customize your stage.
For the random sound option, I looked into the Sound library and found a lot of good options. I could've recorded one myself but I stuck to the available options.
Finally, in the photos you can take a look at the code. It's pretty basic, but then again, it was made in the 5 minutes before I took my place with the other workshops the school was promoting, so it was more than enough haha
In the last picture there's the final look of the stage and the sprite.
Step 4: Let's Test It!
Here's a video explaining how it works. Like I said there, it was a huge success and had many students wanting to try out the Makey Makey, from 1st graders to our 9th graders, plus passing teachers and parents.
Many of them were curious about how it worked, which is the kind of questions I wanted to hear from the kiddos. When I told them I had 10 Makey Makey's in the Makerspace, I think that was the moment many of them decided to sign up for the class.
All in all, not bad for a last-minute project! :-)