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Design Thinking, Game Controllers, and Adaptive Technology- Michael Bycraft

October 01, 2021

We've been following the work of Michael Bycraft for a few years now! His students often use Makey Makey to learn the iterative design process. Today we were wowed by this controller that uses Makey Makey with a helmet to create a tilt sensor you control with head movement! Simply amazing design that can also be used as an assistive tech device!



Michael inspired his students by asking them "How might you redesign a controller?" Students worked with Makey Makey to create their own inventions.


Michael teaches middle school and high school design and innovation classes at KIS which is a private, nonsectarian school offering an American college preparatory curriculum. It is a school in the suburbs of Seoul, serving international students, as well as Korean nationals. 

We just love the concept of kids redesigning controllers. Can you explain the unit or other activities that led to these redesigns?

"I was born with one normal hand, and a very small other hand with only one finger. It's called Poland's Syndrome. I love video games and always have. One of my early memories with design and making was taking apart the NES controller and trying to customize it to better work with my hand. Since then I have always enjoyed tinkering with things designed for people with two hands. I was inspired especially by Microsoft XBox Adaptive controller and wondered if my students might be able to take a Makey Makey and create unique things with it inspired by this idea. However, the initial challenge wasn't controller-based. It was very open-ended and the students were messing around but it all gravitated toward game controls because of all the cool apps on the Makey Makey page." 

What was the challenge or instructions you presented to the students?

"I demonstrated the famous Makey Makey banana piano for my students, then showed them the apps page and simply said, 'Make a cool interface for something using your Makey Makey.' The directions were very open. This is my high school class, 'Engineering, design, and fabrication.' I usually do the second project around a Makey Makey, and this year my students just took it to another level."
"Make a cool interface for something using your Makey Makey."

Can you share some of your favorites that the students made?

"One student took home her Makey Makey over our fall break and created a controller for League of Legends. It's amazing and she did so much work.
Another student created a keyboard for a rhythm game using conductive copper tape and a small very well built ring for her ground.
Another student created a helmet that when you tilt your head the points contact, and you can jump in the dinosaur game that's in google chrome. It's an incredibly unique interpretation I've never seen before with the platform.
One student laser cut a Spotify controller, and another laser-cut his control box. The students really did a mix of different techniques to get awesome controllers."

Assistive Technology

We love to see teachers and students using Makey Makey to create assistive technology for others!

See our page about adaptive resources and assistive technology here. Learn about our partnership with Makers Making Change.



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