• 25.06.2013
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    In this lesson idea, adaptable for KS2 year groups, pupils explore electricity, electric circuits, conductivity, and basic computer peripherals.

    Pupils will learn the basics of electric circuits using a BrainPOP UK topic and explore conduction by experimenting with connecting different materials to a MaKey MaKey.


    A MaKey Makey is a relatively inexpensive kit that allows you turn everyday objects into touchpads. It allows you to use anything with at least a small amount of conductivity connected to the MaKey MaKey to do things like press the space bar or control a computer mouse. You can even use it to make a piano out of bananas!

    Pupils will:

    1. Gain a basic understanding of electric circuits and the components they need to work.
    2. Explore aspects of the scientific method through experimenting with different materials.
    3. Gain a basic understanding of conduction.
    4. Practice evaluating different materials and how they can be used.


    • Computer with internet access
    • BrainPOP UK access
    • Interactive whiteboard (or projector)
    • Selection of objects e.g. fruit, toys, leaves, playdoh etc. – a good range of items made of different materials that do and do not conduct are good
    • MaKey MaKey


    Conduction, electricity, materials, circuit, computer, insulator 


    Play around with the MaKey MaKey to make sure you are comfortable using it and setting it up, as well as getting an idea of the various kinds of things that work with it.

    A good place to get more information on how they work/how to use it is their official website: www.MaKeyMaKey.com. You can find all the support you’ll need at http://www.makeymakey.com/howto.php

    Watch through the Electric Circuits BrainPOP UK movie and note where you would like to use pause points to check understanding or expand any points illustrated in the movie.

    BrainPOP UK Electric Circuits

    Choose a Game Up game for the pupils to use their built circuit with – I like using Simple Machines or Dublox, but it is a good opportunity to pick something relevant to topics being covered in lessons.

    I like to prepare a “game pad” (see image below for an example) using a sheet of A4 paper with pencil graphite connecting the MaKey MaKey to playdoh buttons. This keeps the wires out of the way and makes a very easy to use controller. It’s also a great talking point for showing how circuit boards, like the MaKey MaKey, work.

    Makey Makey controller

    Lesson Procedure:

    1. Play the BrainPOP UK Electric Circuits movie on the interactive whiteboard. Pause the movie at predetermined points to ask pupil’s questions to check comprehension and engagement. If you wish to you could also use the quiz to check understanding.
    2. Talk about the concepts in the movie and discuss conductivity with leading questions such as – “What are wires made of? Why? What other things might be good to use as wires?”
    3. Have pupils look at the assembled objects and talk about what they are, what they’re made of, and what they’re usually for. Have pupils think about what objects would be a conductor and why they think so.
    4. Have pupils sort the objects into yes, no, and maybe piles based on whether they think the object will conduct.
    5. Hook up various objects they’ve picked from each pile to the MaKey MaKey and show them whether it works or not. If they were incorrect ask them why they think they were wrong and if it’s made them change their mind about anything in the other piles.
    6. One activity I like to do is to have all the pupils stand and hold hands and use them to close the circuit on the MaKey MaKey – this is a great opportunity to explain safety when it comes to electricity as it shows them that they are also conductive and why it’s important to insulate things like wires.
    7. Give the pupils opportunity to choose what objects to use as controls and try it out with the game and evaluate whether they could make it better to use.
    8. If you have prepared one a playdoh controller can be used here with pupils taking it in turns to use it to play the game. Have them critique the game pad and whether they think it’s any good. “What would you do better?” 
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    Posted by ChrisB @ 2:40 pm

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  • 3 Responses

    • Eric Rosenbaum Says:

      Hi! I’m Eric, one of the inventors of MaKey MaKey. I just wanted to make a quick correction. You say “You will also need to install a driver to get it working.” This is incorrect. You do not need a driver to use MaKey MaKey on any platform (mac, windows, linux). On the MaKey MaKey “how to” page ( http://www.makeymakey.com/howto.php ) we explain that a notification may pop up when you plug it in, but you can cancel it.

      The situation in which you need to install a driver is rare and unrelated to this lesson idea. it’s only when you want to reprogram your MaKey MaKey (for example, to change which keys it presses, so you can get ‘z’ instead of ‘w’ or something), and that is also only true for windows users.


    • ChrisB Says:

      Hi Eric,

      Wow, thanks for stopping by, great to meet you.

      We only added that because we’ve always had to install a driver (Windows PCs) or it didn’t work. But we’ve amended that part and asked them to go direct to you guys if they hit any issues.

      You might be interested to know we recently used it at a Science conference where it was the star of the show https://twitter.com/judosolution/status/349884454992498688/photo/1

    • BrainPOP UK | BrainPOPping at Blackpool Celebrating Science | POPtalk Says:

      […] If you’d like to give trying out BrainPOP and the MaKey MaKey in your own lessons you can find a lesson plan to try based on this workshop here. […]

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