Tinkering in AS Programs

One #PocomokeScholar creates a video game controller with Makey Makey technology during our school's after school program. The scholar managaed to use his creation to play the classic Nintendo game Mario Bros. (Photo/BJC)

One #PocomokeScholar creates a video game controller with Makey Makey technology and random pieces of fruit during the school’s after school program. The scholar managed to use his creation to play the classic Nintendo game Mario Bros. (Photo/BJC)

Exhaustion is an understatement.

I usually switch from a shirt and tie to a polo.

They bombard my room. Their voices echo. The volume from multiple Chromebooks makes my head spin.

…but I wouldn’t change it.

This is the normal after school program for Pocomoke Scholars. I preach daily the expectations of being a scholar, and scholars corroborate my thoughts daily that “you are only great by choice. There has to be a desire of wanting to learn.

That’s my job, sparking their passion to learn and be creative.


The biggest trigger to igniting a passion for learning is being more excited than the scholars entering the room. I’ll admit, I fail at this routine from time to time. I get worn down by the challenges of being a husband, parent, and teacher. However, as a parent I don’t want to hear my child’s teacher is tired. I want the best for my children, and I give it my best to do the same for my scholars.

Therefore, I needed an activity which was different. Something unique that was going to challenge them, yet be grade-appropriate.

Makey Makey

Two year ago at Common Ground — a technology conference in Ocean City, MD — I presented a poster session next to a quirky guy playing guitar hero with fruit. Needless to say, I was quite distracted watching him setup to even worry about my own work. We connected for a sh

ort time afterwards, and he walked me threw how a Makey Makey works.


I was stoked!

It allows one to take an old school video game controller and re-program it with ordinary objects (i.e., fruit, Play Doh, tinfoil). I bought one that afternoon for myself and fiddled around with it at home. As an adult, I was playing my old Nintendo games online with simple objects.

My wife thought I was being juvenile, but I was tinkering.

It eventually went from making controllers to switches to turn on-and-off lights. I had an ongoing science fair project and I was loving it.


Tinkering is a major part of scholar learning. One #PocomokeScholar created a guitar using Makey Makey technology to go with an already made online game. (Photo/BJC)

Take it to School

Beginning in January 2016, I got to bring the technology into my school’s after school program. I was nervous because I was working with elementary and middle school students.

Would they be smart enough to figure out the technology?

Some were not even sure how to plug in the USB during my per-assessment of skills. However, each scholar persevered forward, and I spent a lot of time modeling mini-lessons which were foundation skills. By spending a lot of time on how electricity was conducted and worked through the alligator clamps, scholars began to understand the premise of how Makey Makey’s worked.

As a result, scholars mastered the technology in a few short weeks and have moved on to tinkering the best or most efficient ways to build video game controllers. They walk away with smiles and some even purchased their own kits for home.

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