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Featured Educator: Josh Burker and Margaret Pastel

October 18, 2022

We love the innovative ways that educators (in both formal and informal learning spaces) introduce learners to the concept of physical computing with Makey Makey and coding languages like: Scratch, Processing, and Python. Each month, we like to feature an educator and a unique project they've worked on recently. To read more educator posts, simply sign up for our newsletter.

This summer we saw an amazing assortment of projects at Josh Burker's Make Makey Make Workshop! He partnered with librarian Margaret Pastel to introduce this innovative camp to his local community!


Man in glasses and woman smiling with a sign behind them that says Westport library 

What was the timeline for this camp?

This was a three day workshop for students in grades 6-9 as part of Camp Explore at the Westport Library. The goal of the workshop was to introduce campers to Makey Makey, circuitry, conductive materials, and cardboard construction techniques with a very low-floor approach.

Check out the Make Makey Make Site Josh created for this workshop!

The classes were only an hour and a half long so I made clear to them that I wanted to introduce them to these big ideas so they could play with them more after I was gone.

Day 1: The first day focused on: What is the Makey Makey, What is Conductive?, Design Your Own Controller



Day 2: Josh built an epic keytar to inspire students to create their own musical instruments



Day 3: Focused on Building a Big Controller so students would need to add physical movement into their projects.



(See the full camp schedule here.)

What worked well for this timeline?

Because the workshop was only 1.5 hours, leveraging the resources Colleen assembled to make the Makey work out of the box with no programming were instrumental in the success of the workshop. 


 This workshop was successful because of the tools Colleen and others have created to allow you to use the Makey Makey without any programming experience or need to create your own program. With a short amount of time and some students who were unfamiliar with Scratch, I needed a way for them to check conductivity or to play a game with one or just a couple of buttons. The music tools in particular worked for everyone!

One student was looking for something very particular and who could quickly pivot to Scratch. Without these web apps I would not have had as much success.

What are some of your favorite creations that students made during this camp?
I loved the guitars that were built!
And look at the Tetris controller shaped like a Tetris block!
Cardboard game controller shaped like Tetris block for playing Tetris
What would you do differently next time?
I would have liked each session to be 3 hours long so we could have added programming, but I was psyched with how it worked as we ran it. 


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