Lexington Public Library’s “Create It at Your Library” Teen Tech Week program was designed to get kids between the ages of 11-18 interested in all aspects of STEAM learning using JoyLabz MakeyMakeys, small circuit boards that allow anything that conducts electricity to become the arrow keys, space and click buttons on a computer.
Our first event was prepared in partnership with the local middle and high schools. We connected the MakeyMakeys to bananas that were then plugged into a computer running Super Mario Bros. We explained that electrical currents work in a circular pattern through a ground wire plugged into the MakeyMakey; this allows a current to run through the computer and conductive items, so the kids were able to control Mario by tapping bananas!
Lexington High School Students playing Super Mario Bros. using bananas and JoyLabz MakeyMakeys. Credit: Joanna Cox
Our second event took place inside the library and involved using the MakeyMakeys to create interactive pieces of geometric artwork. First the kids cut colorful pieces of paper into shapes that could be arranged in repeating patterns. Next they adhered their mosaics to a large piece of cardstock and placed lines of conductive paint throughout the patterns. Using a computer program that allows users to assign sound effects to keyboard buttons, kids were able to use the MakeyMakeys to turn their artwork into musical instruments – each time they touched the conductive parts of their art, the computer would play they sound associated with that key in the computer program.
We hope that the success of these programs will allow us to offer regular STEAM-based events for teens at the library.
Joanna Cox is the Library Systems Support Tech and Teen Services Librarian at the Lexington Public Library in Davidson County, North Carolina.