Makey Makey Workshop and Playing with Video

by John Seedhouse

The Future Media team carried modelling clay, beans, fruit and tech to the Birmingham Made Me exhibition last week.  Lead by Mark Brill (Future Media Senior Lecturer) and Mei-Ju Yao (MA student) we were there to persuade a bunch of grown adults to get their hands dirty and techy with a little bit of kit called Makey Makey.

We have written about Makey Makey before but for the uninitiated it is a clever little PCB with a USB connector and a pack of wire and crocodile clips – imagine that bit from Lethal Weapon with the car battery and the wet sponge and we are probably in the right zone. The cool thing with this kit is that rather than electrocuting Mel Gibson the creative type can use the contents of the box to turn anything into a switch…

After a brief introduction to the contents of the box and the facilitators for the session we let loose 6 groups, with a Mac each, a table covered in the offspring of a Blue Peter demo and a last minute shopping trip to the 24 hour garage.

Having provided our delegates with the materials of mass chaos, a “responsible” support worker, a brief outline of the what, why’s and how’s of the kit and a team name related to social media channels (see the clever way we link this all together…) Mark set the challenge.

Each team had to use any or all of the items on the table (plus begged, borrowed or stolen additionals) and the Makey Makey to create an answer to one of the briefs:

#1 Being more active is fun
#2 Get kids to eat more fruit
#3 Help older people
#4 Better business networking
#5 Train a pet
#6 Help build a team

Perhaps wisely, Shrey and I decided that we would live-blog the event rather than risk the potential danger of electrified seats… Into our usual mix of Vine, Twitter and Storify we thought we could try filming and doing a live edit onsite and then showing the results at the end of the session. More on that later…

It says something for the concept of the tech that by halfway through the introductory session normally mature adults were devolving into giggles and making obscene things out of play-doh and pieces of wire.

As a kinaesthetic exercise it was interesting to see the way groups approached the problems from a 3D perspective. Cardboard houses and earthing strips of aluminium foil were the most visible and the air was filled with fruit drums playing alarm klaxons.

Whilst I was madly videoing bits and bobs on the iPad mini and wondering if I would be able to edit them all with the i-movie app, Shrey was busy making vines of the chaos and tweeting (he was alone in this as the groups seemed far too busy to start hash-tagging instagrams and tweets.)

So what was produced?

Team Instagram came up with a variation on the game controller for Pacman – a boisterous project that involved play-doh pads, metal carpets and a serious lack of vertical stability. The demo team of Jon Hickman and our own Neil Horne had clearly engaged in similar silliness previously…

COntrolling pacman with makey makey

Dance Mat Pac Man Controller

Team Facebook developed a Pavlovian approach to childrens diet with a fruit / audio reward system.

fruit based piano
Team Vine seemed to enjoy hitting fruit to produce strange and wonderful melodies.

the makey makey drum trigger

Drum machine triggers from Team Vine

Team Pinterest and Team Foursquare combined electrocution and pet care into a pair of Woodhousian behaviour training systems.

pavlov's dog

One of 2 differing dog training systems

Did we change the world with the event? Not really but it did prove that there is an innate element of creative solution building in all of us. Sometimes it is just fun to regress slightly and try solving problems without resorting to Microsoft Office products – and maybe this is where we need to think about re-focussing on how we learn with technology.

We made a Storify of the session.

 

 

Did the self contained video production system work? Watch below…