Holly Explains Makey Makey – Tech Writers – Part 2

As part of our Media Production course here at USM, I asked my students to critique a website, a application on their Mac, an app that they used on their smartphone or a piece of hardware.

Below is our second submission. Holly did a great job explaining and showcasing Makey Makey. I am very proud of the writing part of this submission.

I would love to give my students some authentic feedback from an authentic audience. Please be so kind to add a comment and remember, if you have nothing nice to say…

Here is a video tutorial of Makey Makey made by Holly.


Makey Makey

Makey Makey is a really neat technological tool because just by connecting a couple of wires to it, and to a computer, it becomes a whole controller at the tip of your fingers (literally).

The materials that come in Makey Makey are: the main control panel, a USB cord that connects from the control panel to any computer and seven different colored wires with alligator clips at both ends that connect to the Makey Makey control panel and any other object.

The Makey Makey control panel includes an up arrow, a down arrow, a right side arrow, a left side arrow, click, and space. With these controls you can do many things.

The small side of the USB cord will go into the Makey Makey on the top. The other bigger side of the USB will be put in either side of your computer. The Makey Makey will flash green and then a pop-up will appear on your computer telling you that a new network has been detected; however, this window is not needed, and you can just press cancel.

Then you are going to want to take the 7 colored wires and hook one up (it doesn’t matter what color) to the Makey Makey, where it says “earth”. Once you have that finished, you are going to want to add as many wires (with clamps) onto the other open spaces on the control panel, so for example the up arrow or the down arrow.

What I did was just connect them all to the other open spaces, leaving the original wire clamped to “earth”. After that is completed, you are going to pick up the wire that has one end connected to “earth” and hold the other end in the tips of your fingers.

Then grab another wire with a clamp (doesn’t matter which one) and touch the top. If you have a word document open, for example, you will see that touching the clamps connected to the control panel will make these actions happen in your document. If you touch the space button, it will create a space.

You can also connect the wires with a clamp to a piece of tin-foil, and you can draw arrows on the tin-foil. Then you can connect the arrow wires to the same arrows on the tin-foil and play a game like that. The arrows on the tin foil will activate a character to make the moves in the game. You can also connect Makey Makey to a music system and create music. Or you could connect the wires to bananas wrapped in tin foil! And make music with bananas! How cool!

Makey Makey is a great way to make learning fun! A quote from the creators says, “We believe that everyone is creative, inventive, and imaginative. We believe that everyone can create the future and change the world. So we have dedicated our lives to making easy-to-use invention kits.” I like this quote about Makey Makey because it explains it so well! Makey Makey is a great way also to become creative, inventive, and imaginative! Makey Makey is explained with those words because you have the opportunity to create something amazing with wires and your fingers! You can make a step piano, banana band, and so much more!

I was really lucky to work with Makey Makey and figure out how to assemble it, create music, and I got to show other people. I would highly suggest getting Makey Makey because it makes learning and creating fun even thought it already is!


Tech Writers

As part of our Media Production course here at USM, I asked my students to critique a website, a application on their Mac, an app that they used on their smartphone or a piece of hardware.

Below is our first submission.  Patty did a great job explaining and showcasing iMovie.  I am very proud of the writing part of this submission.  The video also explains how to do a reverse motion movie within iMovie.

I would love to give my students some authentic feedback from an authentic audience.  Please be so kind to add a comment and remember, if you have nothing nice to say…


Here is the link to the video tutorial.


iMovie is an easy program to use, and I do really like this video editing program. You can use iMovie for multiple different projects. IMovie is fun and so many people use it. I think that it is very easy to make reverse motion, stop motion, slow motion, fast motion, movies, movie trailers, and you can even import music you made yourself into iMovie to make your project even more interesting.

I did some projects for school on iMovie myself; I created a reverse motion movie. In the main window of iMovie there is an adjustments bar in the top right corner. If you click on adjust, a turtle, along with many other tools will appear. Once you click on the turtle button, three options appear. You can click the reverse button and then it will turn your clips into a reverse motion.

This is very easy to do; I also used iMovie for a stop motion project. All you have to do is select all of the photos you want to include, and then go to the information button, inside the adjustments button. Then inside that, there is a duration button, and you can make each picture appear on the screen for only 1 second, if you type in the number “one”. The only confusing part about this, is that you have to go really fast when hitting the enter button to change the duration, otherwise it won’t change. This was extremely easy and the only time consuming part was taking all the photos. You can also make a movie trailer in iMovie. I created a trailer in 7th grade, and it was very simple.

To make your projects more interesting you can add music from iTunes, and you can make your projects have themes. You can also make your projects black and white and you can choose how loud your background music is. You can use an effect called Ken Burns found in the crop button in the adjust tab. Ken Burns only works on photos. Ken Burns is an effect that allows you to zoom in or zoom out, or both, on a particular photo. You can change where it starts to go in and out and when to stop it. There is also an enhance button next to the adjust button. It makes the video a crème color. IMovie makes many projects fun and interesting.

IMovie can be slow at times, but that is only if there is a lot of photos being imported at once, or many special effects overlapping one another. Make sure that you update your iMovie so that you get the latest project creations and movie trailer creations. iMovie only comes with apple products not Microsoft or any other software’s. You can get iMovie on your phone and your Ipad, not only your computer. If you have a new Apple device the iMovie app comes with it. If you have an older device, it is $4.99. If you don’t have it, you should get it on your apple devices.

I would suggest iMovie for teachers and students. It is a simple, non-time consuming way to make projects for school, for lessons, or just to make things for fun. The main point is I would recommend iMovie for many different people and projects. I had a blast creating my projects in iMovie and I hope others do too!

Common Sense Media

24 Video Games You Can Say Yes to After School

Above is a link to a great article by a wonderful source, Common Sense Media.  With colder days and less sunlight right around the corner, Common Sense Media has provided a list of video games that are fun and your son or daughter might even learn something!

Have a look and if you have any other video game suggestions, please add them in the comment section of this blog.

What a Transformation! Computer Lab to NERDVANA!

This year in the Middle School Computer Lab/MakerSpace/Nerdvana was a transformative one.

The space originally started as a computer lab.  Rows of PCs that were outdated…so out they went.  We now had a room with countertops but nothing to put on those countertops…so out they went.  A peninsula, that housed some outdated technology and served no purpose except as an obstacle to quickly get to the other side of the room…so out it went.

You may ask, “What was left?” and the answer is absolutely nothing.  Exactly the way I wanted it.  Let the transformation begin…a clean slate, an open canvas, a blank Maxel XLII-90 minute cassette tape.

Here are my 5 steps to start a MakerSpace or as we call it at University School – NERDVANA!




Do Ink – Green Screen App

Do InkFor about an hour now, I have been working with an app that has made me forget that I was actually working.  Do Ink’s Green Screen app is a wonderful new(ish) app that allows green screen video editing to be done directly on the iPad.

Simple enough to work with, it also comes with a very informative tutorial to help you navigate the work space.

Here is a quick tutorial of how it works.

Coupled with the original Do Ink App that can make animations, these 2 apps can provide a powerful 1-2 punch.

This app can be an easy way to create an inexpensive classroom studio.  With some bright green poster board and this app, a studio can be created for about $20.00 (minus the iPad).



Make Something!


Make SomethingIt’s been awhile…sorry!

However, we have been very busy here in the Middle School!

First of all, the MS MakerSpace has been rebranded.  Our Middle School students now call this space, “NERDVANA”!

As for the rest, the graphic above pretty much tells our tale…

1.  Fifth Grade Dragon Boat Races were the best yet!

2.  Curious minds lead us to dismantling many old computers and repurposing some of their parts.

3.  Re-mixing music occurred here in Nerdvana!

4.  Stuffed sharks!

5.  Created prosthetic limbs  with skill and precision.

6.  Produced Podcasts for 6th grade.

7.  Designed interesting products for the 7th Grade Toy Projects.

8.  Used in-house resources like USM’s skilled craftsman/woodworker, Mr. Jacobs, create a student designed workbench.

9.  Printed numerous object with our innovative 3D Printer.

It is a great time to be a middle school student here at University School of Milwaukee!

Yik Yak

From my poll that was conducted last week, I will put together a blurb about each of the apps for which you voted.  In addition to a review of the app or site, I hope to find something positive to share about the featured app or site.

Yik Yak

This week my focus is Yik Yak.

In a nutshell, Yik Yak is an app that allows anonymous posts to appear
on a message board.  The message board uses GPS and allows messages
from approximately a 30 mile radius to appear on the user’s feed.
There is no log in for this app which makes the app completely

Yik Yak has been meant for colleges but it has been making it way into
high schools and middle schools.  The app was developed as a way to
encourage the quiet students to be a bit more vocal, “Because that guy
in the back row of your science class might be the funniest guy you
never heard.” said Buffington, one of the creators of Yik Yak.  It is
also mean to be a “Virtual Bulletin Board” and by using GPS this app
can update your feed with “Yaks” that are within a certain proximity
to your mobile device.

Recently, the Yik Yak app came under fire because of its use on high
school campuses.  Students were using the app to cyber-bully other
students.  Once the creators of Yik Yak heard about this, they became
very concerned.  What Buffington and Droll (the creators of Yik Yak)
did next was very commendable.  They contacted Apple to see if they
could get an expedited review of their app and updated it to a 17+ age
limit; Apple obliged.  The reason why this is so important is because
parents can set restrictions on their child’s iPad/iPhone or iPod
Touch. These restriction allow parents to enable a function that will
prevent their kids from downloading apps that have 17+ ratings.

However, even with the 17+ rating, our students are not in the clear.
Parents need to take an active role in knowing what their child is
doing on and off line. Setting restrictions on the device is a great
step in the right direction however, having regular conversations
about what is going with your child and being an active participant
is the best solution.

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