Published on January 8th, 2016 | by Chantale Pard
Anime Club: Makey Makeys & Scratch Games
Due to high demand, our Summer Anime Club runs every week in July and August. This, of course, means that I need to come up with more ideas than usual – and since it’s during the summer that we see our largest influx of new club members, I like to try and make my summer programs extra special and fun. That’s how I landed on my Anime Club Makey Makey program. While I don’t really think anyone showed up that day because of the theme itself, it was definitely a great opportunity to expose our teens to this trendy STEM technology. There were also plenty of laughs throughout their experimentations! This portion of our program ran for about 30 minutes, but you could certainly extend that time if you needed to.
Our TD Summer Reading Club theme two summers ago was “Eureka!”, and it was in the height of what I like to think of as the maker space explosion. We (our library system) did plenty of research and managed to purchase a few of the hottest, hands on, youth-targeted STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) equipment for that summer. I helped put together our regional Squishy Circuits kits, and was consequently also very enthusiastic about our new Makey Makeys. After their success that summer, we’ve since expanded our maker space goody collection to include more quantity and variety of STEM technologies, so it was easy for me to book all 10 Makey Makeys for my Anime Club program this past summer.
Speaking of variety and our success from two summers ago, I’d like to take a quick moment to make an important point. I was recently at a local library conference where the presenters at a STEM themed programs session mentioned their motivations for constantly seeking out new technologies: “kids get tired of toys after experiencing them”. While I’m certainly not against researching and acquiring new technologies for your programs, I have to disagree with the principle of needing new things simply due to loss of interest. Sure, you might not want to run the same basic Squishy Circuits program 8 times for the same kids, but there are so many ways to spin these technologies to whatever other theme you might be interested in. We’ve run both Halloween and Despicable Me themed maker spaces at our branch, with much success. I easily have a dozen more ideas for different ways to use our maker space tools, which certainly shouldn’t be thrown in the back of a closet after their initial debut. My Anime Club version is another example:
- 8 laptops (from our branch programming equipment)
- 8 Makey Makey kits (I booked these through our regional collection)
- Play dough
- Tin foil
- Fruit, or any other conductive materials (check the “Different Materials” section here for possible options).
Here’s what I did:
Not familiar with Makey Makeys? Make sure to read the link above to further acquaint yourself!
I gave myself some extra set up time for this program because it can take a lot of time to connect each individual wire on the Makey Makey. If I run something similar next summer, I will make sure to have one or two of our teen volunteers on hand to help.
I set up each MakeyMakey on a laptop, and connected them according to their included instructions. For the conductive materials, I used a combination of play dough and tin foil shapes (see picture above). If you have more prep time, I’m sure you could come up with some really great anime themed tinfoil shapes which could make your project extra kawaii, but I was in a rush and just whipped up a few hearts.
I then opened up the Scratch site on each laptop, and navigated to some of my pre-chosen favorite Anime themed games that were also compatible with the Makey Makey. Not familiar with Scratch? It’s a project made by the MIT Media Lab that allows you to program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community. It’s user friendly, and easily picked up by kids. Feel free to check out the link above for more information.
- Paperclips! I like to use a paperclip lead between my Makey Makey alligator clip and the conductive material. Cleaning bits of banana or play dough out of the alligator clip is a very tedious project, so we avoid this by adding another conductive material (the paper clip) between the two. You can just toss your sticky paperclips away when you’re finished.
- Tape down your wires. The Makey Makeys normally have about 4-6 wires coming from the base, which can get pretty messy and confusing. We like to tape ours down to the table to help separate them while keeping them stationary. Try taping things down in the Up, Down, Left, Right pattern similar to the one on the base for more clarity.
- High Fives! So if you’ve done your research on the Makey Makey, you’ll know that in order to create your circuit and activate whatever switch is programmed in your Scratch project, you need to touch the ground wire with one hand, and the coordinating conductive material with the other hand. It’s even more fun to use two people though – if one person holds the ground wire, while the other person touches the conductive material, the switch will be activated when they high five each other! This works best with sound based switches, where you can hear the immediate results.
- Choosing Scratch Projects. Not all Scratch projects are made with the Makey Makey in mind. On Scratch website, you’ll want to try searching for your theme word in combination with the term “Makey”, but if that doesn’t bring up anything interesting, just make sure that the game/project works with a combination of the Up, Down, Left, Right, or Space buttons. Some projects require moving your mouse around and clicking on things. While you can use the Makey Makey to “click”, you can’t really use it to navigate the mouse itself (or if you can, I’ve never figured out how), so it’s best to avoid those projects for now.
- Full Screen! Don’t forget to press the full screen button so you can really see the projects. This is the blue square in the top left corner.
My Favorite Anime Scratch Games (Suitable for use with the Makey Makey):
(My Neighbor) Totoro Bounce: Great, adorable graphics. Easy to use with the Makey Makey (uses Left and Right only). Sometimes you’ll fall off his head and get caught in the side hole, but the music and kawaii-ness makes up for it. https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/46331122/
Sword Art Online – The New Adventure: This one has a lot of different buttons to set up, but we ran ours with the Left, Right, Up, Down, and Space, only, and they still had fun trying it. Once again you’ve got the recognizable theme song in the background, and the fighting style was a bit more in depth that the simple Left/Right games that usually pair up with Makey Makeys. https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/16447879/
Attack on Titan – Parkour with Eren: This was the clear winner in our program! We all thought it was hilarious – Eren’s head just bobbles around and jumps off of the maze walls. It’s fantastic! Great addition of that popular theme song, too. Makey Makey controls (Left, Right, and Up) take a bit to get use to – the jumping motion is a combination of pressing up and Left or Right at the same time while touching a wall, but once you get the hang of it, it’s super fun!
Naruto Maze: Pretty simple to work with the Makey Makey (uses Left, Right, Up and Down). Good, recognizable graphics, and cool background music.