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PBL with Makey Makey

Project Based Learning begins with a Driving Question and evolves into a thematic exploration. I wanted to explore PBL with my summer interns and model for them how to plan and implement a PBL.  Here is what we did.  

First I Identified the standards I wanted to hit.

5th grade Science
Students will understand features of current electricity
  • Draw a label components of an electrical circuit
  • Investigate materials that prevent the flow of electricity
  • Make a working model of a closed circuit with a switch and conductors.

5ht grade ELA

Reading Informational Text, Standards 9 and 10

  • Integrate information from several texts, on the same topic to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably
  • Read and understand technical text

Writing Explanatory Text, Standards 2,7, and  8

  • Write text that explains information and conveys ideas clearly
  • Conduct short research projects
  • Recall relevant information from experience and gather information from print and digital sources to summarize or paraphrase.

  • Apply strategies for identifying and solving hardware and software problems

    • Use the content specific tools for research
    • Design, develop, publish and present products
    • Exhibit legal and ethical behaviors while using information and technology

Then I identified the Intended Learning Outcomes for the Unit

  • Communicates understanding of a circuit
  • Draws and labels components of a circuit
  • Creates a switch, can explain open and closed circuit
  • Defines insulators and conductors
  • Works collaboratively with group to creatively apply ideas about circuitry to a new situation that involves critical thinking
  • Explains Teacher Thinking, connections to Science and Engineering Practices, 21st century skills, and standards.

Driving Question: How does current electricity work and how can it be used through a circuit board to control a computer?

Entry Event: LED Throwies
The students are given the materials and are allowed to explore until they are able to light the bulb.  Discussion about the science involved.  Why is it only light when you connect it in a certain way?

 For the whole LED Throwie Lesson see LED Throwies

Next Stage Squishy Circuits: Students are given materials and asked to light a light bulb, then try the other make the motor work and the buzzer buzz.  Students are challenged to make a switch.  Students discover closed circuit, open circuit, conductors and insulators. 

For the complete lesson on Squishy Circuits see Fun with Squishy Circuits
(On another day) Next Stage: Makey Makey

I showed students this video 

I present the Driving Question:
How does current electricity work and how can it be used through a circuit board to control a computer?

Students are asked to generate questions that they will Need to Know the answers to in order to create their Makey Makey Project.

Students are divided into groups, each group has a laptop and a Makey Makey. Through Trial and error they figure out how to make it work. Through purposeful research they troubleshoot and think critically to figure out what they can create. Each group contributes at least one answer to the Need to Know questions. They are placed on the Project Board.

Once the students have had ample time to research and prepare their project and display board (several days) We had a Presentation Day in which we invited family and friends to come see our finished project. 

Here are some of their finished projects:

Here is the sequence of the Unit
Sequence of Unit

  • Entry Event: LED Throwies
  • Concept Development: Squishy Circuit
  • Challenge and Driving Question Presented
  • Generating of Need to Know Questions
  • Research: Hands-on and Looking things up
  • Planning, Designing, Implementing, Recording Ideas and Redesigning
  • Presenting

Our PBL was a huge success.  The students said it was very engaging and they learned a lot  

If you would like to see more of these projects in person, please visit the STEM+ Expo. The STEM+ Expo is free to attend and we will be giving away a free Makey Makey!  

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