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“Hack A Banana” The Playful Side of Engineering — Using Cool Tools to Teach and Help Others

This unit is designed for the teacher who would like to introduce electronics and circuitry to students in elementary grade levels using the playful side of engineering. Through play, students will develop problem-solving skills using visual logic and if-then statements, which would extend into solving many of the day-to-day in the real world.

This unit will take an invention created by Jay Silver and Eric Rosenbaum, who work for MIT’s Lifelong Kindergarten Group at MIT Media Lab, called “MaKey MaKey, and students will use it to discover their world in ways they never thought of. The MaKey MaKey kit allows students to take everyday objects to create a touchpad soundboard using an object, the elements in the kit and a computer. The possibilities are endless.

The activities in the unit offer new experiences for students to use their minds to solve problems creatively. Part of this journey to explore is to play, to find new ways to do old things. “The creative adult is the child who survived.”- U. LeGuin

Many students do not know how to do this because they have been taught to give answers to problems with only one solution. Education in our school district is now focusing on creating a new generation of independent thinkers.

Teachers are being asked to become facilitators for the 21st century classroom where students are the explorers and seekers of information- where students teach and learn from each other to solve problems they may not be able to on their own. This allows students to rely on their own learning strengths to bring to the cooperative learning environment. Programming is a perfect vehicle.

Students will explore the following materials to create circuits, musical objects and game controllers from everyday objects, and will learn how to use their bodies to complete the circuits.

MaKey MaKey



Snap Circuits

Drawdio musical pencil- a homemade drawing circuit using a pencil, a thumbtack and an integrated circuit

Through discovery, students will learn what objects act as conductors and which ones act as resistors.  Play dough can become piano keys. A pencil can make sounds as it writes. What other possibilities will they find that haven’t yet been tried?

This unit will be designed for students in Grades 5 and 6 to be completed over 6 weeks, once or twice per week.

Dale Apple
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