Part I: MaKey MaKeys
To get things started, I introduced how circuits work; completing a circuit is key to getting the MaKeys to function properly, so the introduction seemed apt. From there, kids opened their MaKey MaKey kits and we started to attach the alligator clips to the board. With a MaKey MaKey, you can turn anything that will conduct electricity into a computer key. We used paper clips attached to an index card to help keep everything orderly.
Getting the MaKeys set up took a few minutes, but pretty quickly the kids were able to figure out how they could complete their circuits and get their MaKeys to function. They were experimenting with their setups and playing the default MaKey games before I knew it.
Part II: Scratch
After a half hour of MaKey setup and experimentation, we moved on to the portion of the program where we created computer games. We used Scratch--which, I found out during the program, about half of the kids had already used in school programs. Scratch is a free, web-based, visual programming platform created by MIT, and it offers lots of options for creating computer programs at varying levels of complexity.
We set out to create simple maze games in which the player avatar--called a Sprite in Scratch--navigates a pathway using the arrow keys until reaching the end and finishing the game. I had created a sample maze before the program, and I projected the game's scripts onto a blank wall to provide examples of ways to make a maze game. I moved from child to child for about 45 minutes, coaching them on creating their game backdrops; the next steps in their programming; talking about x and y axes; asking questions to help them think about how they could tell the game to do what they want, etc. After trial and error and lots of tinkering with their code scripts, the kids were able to get their games to do what they wanted.
Part III: Playing Scratch Games with MaKey MaKeys
With the Scratch games in working order, the children plugged their MaKey MaKey apparatuses back into their laptops so they could use their paper clip keys to play their games. Several of the kids tried one another's games before their parents rejoined us in the room, at which point it was great to hear the kids explaining what they'd created and to see them guide their parents through playing their games. I heard lots of feedback that the kids would be continuing to experiment with making Scratch games at home.
That's a sign of success for a maker program, if you ask me--kids learn new skills and discover new interests that they'd like to continue to pursue.