Makey Makey is an “invention kit,” allowing users to turn anything capable of conducting a small amount of electricity into a touchpad which can be connected to a computer or other electrical device (lamp, blender, etc.). It’s designed for ages 8+ to provide a starting point for learning to use electronics.
Out of the box, Makey Makey can control a number of computer keys, no set-up required. Online documentation is also available for more detailed instructions and project ideas, and Makey Makey also hosts piano keys and bongos for users to practice building and connecting objects.
The suggested starter projects – creating a photobooth, a banana piano, or a human synth – are kid-friendly, appealing, and easy. The MaKey MaKey operates through USB, so no software is needed, and it runs on Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux. Programming knowledge isn’t required to use it, although MaKey MaKey can also be used like an Arduino to build more interactive prototypes as well as reprogrammed using the Arduino environment. Makey Makey is also reusable and easily shareable – so in a classroom setting, teachers wouldn’t need one per student.
There’s not many bad things to say about MaKey MaKey: it’s relatively inexpensive and it provides an easy and fun entry into the world of making, inventing, and hacking. The only issue is the cord length of the alligator clips – they’re a little short for larger scale projects. Still, that’s a pretty minor complaint, as additional cords are inexpensive and widely available.
Makey Makey offers a lot of inventive possibilities to encourage creative thinking and it provides hands-on learning experiences for computer science concepts. The kits are reasonably priced as compared to other intro-to-electronics products (e.g., littleBits Base Kit, Squishy Circuits, Discover Electronics) and Makey Makey is extremely easy to use, making it truly an invention kit for everyone.