Easter Ninja Hack: Maker ‘Make Do’

That moment when you realise it’s far too late for anything other than make do.

And a late request from Jr for paint for the school’s annual egg paint challenge turns up nothing but black paint.  And it’s electric paint at that.


But then, every cloud………

And every ninja…….


Has potential for a Makey Makey hack.

No bananas were injured in this project 🍌 🍌🍌



Making circuits play ball with Makey Makey Go and electric paint

A Summer of sporting optimism and the anticipation of the start of the US Open after th’olympics and Wimbledon.  That’s the background to our latest project, with an intention to nurture problem solving skills and perseverance alongside paddle prowess.

And not forgetting role models though making.  In this case though, linking the sound of successes from Serena Williams and Andy Murray to our own game.

The initial idea was to link an extended circuit for the Makey Makey Go to add sound using Soundplant. That meant tinkering with materials such as electric paint, crocodile clips and aluminium foil to get a connection with the bat and ball.

Working from the snickometer concept in cricket, and activating a sound from the ball hitting the bat, soon evolved into a tennis player’s voice from this year’s Wimbledon commentary.

Step One:


Step Two:


Step Three:


And finally:


The Yorkshire Mission to Mars – Saturday 12th March ’16

Just a few snippets from a fantastic day for family STEM learning during British Science Week.

Full blogposts from the event are at Ground Control’s website here, as 90 people joined us at the launch.

An amazing collaborative day as the Huddersfield and Leeds Raspberry Jam communities joined through a Space themed Jam – The Yorkshire Mission to Mars.

Digital making activities with Raspberry Pi:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Launching Raspberry Pi, SenseHat and the BBC micro:bit up to Mars with Pete:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Getting unplugged with Space themed STEM challenges

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

For more details click on the Whippet in Spaaaace below, who was kindly created for the event by Amy:

Next date for the diary?

A Raspberry Jam in Hull on Saturday 23 April and Leeds on Wednesday 4th May.

‘Can you play your drums quietly, please?’

I admit it.  Another example of a spur of the moment rhetorical question that’s met with a bemused reaction.  Only this time there’s a pause and then a period of conversing which sparks a drum and bass focused maker project.

And the question to explore?  The one that I asked initially, really…..and a quick follow up:

  1. Is it ever possible to play drums quietly?
  2. Could it be possible with a hack or by making the kit and/or the drumsticks?

Initial thoughts: Not a Cardboard project!

All part of the problem solving and planning and eventually with a solution to explore using the Summer term’s craze with pom-pom making.

An e-textiles percussion conundrum with a solution eventually built up in just a small number of (not so silent) steps:


Step 1: Traditional Pom Pom making


Step 2: Add Conductive Yarn into the spin


Step 3: Attach some Dowel Rod and Hey Presto

Is quiet ‘quiet’ or can quiet actually become silence?

At this point the project skewed and focused on the softer side of pom-pom creation and the minimal noise level possible when playing the drums.


Step 4: Drumsticks ready, kit to play?

The intention was always to use a Touchboard to drum up the sound outputs and make the circuit connections through electric paint and conductive yarn.

Launched by connecting the drumsticks to a 2D painted drumkit, the actual drumming movements could be quiet but the whole performance could also then be silent to a nearby audience if headphones were introduced.


Step 5: Ready to rock?

Did it work?

Well yes, wool touching paint on paper can be very quiet indeed.  Particularly as the performer wears headphones!

But audience participation, review and opportunities for air drumming collaborations?

Sadly lacking something.  Substantial noise levels fitting of needing earplugs?

How do you solve a problem like Ada?

A glimpse into an Ada Lovelace inspired day during a Transition Week for Y6 students.  Poetic science and the obvious focus on progression of programming through algorithmic design.

Challenges were created by the students themselves, who quickly discovered wearable tech possibilities using Codebug as their programmable device.


Which direction did they take to use wearables as a communication gadget as well as a decorative piece?  It varied according to each pair.

Projects included a supportive transition focus, a music message board, a ‘feel good factor’ message, sporting themes and even an Earth Emoji Indicator (invention of the day!)


Designing, Creating & Racing

Group work then gave opportunities for further problem solving as the children turned detective to design their own treasure hunt.  Storytelling paved the way to create their own interactive games and share their challenges with peers.

Resources or tools available to the children?  Scratch, Cannybots and Blue-Bot as a starter for 10.

And how about the poetic science?  For some, imaginations went into overdrive with the possibilities opened up using electric paint.

Injecting a creative science element into their literacy work inspired a small group to investigate and use their circuit skills to develop handwritten projects.

For others, it was the workshop extending circus skills that did the same job 🙂


Tinkering to respond to a Tom Gates book

The opportunity to bring in sounds from the outdoors and rock compositions through a doodled book review.  That’s one idea in response to the traits and characteristics from a favourite fictional character during the week of World Book Day.

Opportunities to trigger by tinkering with electric paint don’t happen very often as a homework activity, but occasionally when your teacher uses a Touchboard from the Bare Conductive team already.