Published: May 20, 2021

Girl adding sound to tactile cardboard drawing using a Makey Makey kit.Funding from a Build a Better Book small grant provided Makey Makey kits and 3D printing pens for John Somer's Build a Better Poem workshops with 4th grade students and Elementary Teacher candidates at the University of Indianapolis. 

To reinforce engineering, computer science, and literacy, University of Indianapolis student engineers (1st-year ELED candidates) collaborated with 4th-grade students to enhance their animal poems with spoken text, sounds, and scenes through the use of a Makey Makey, Scratch programming language, 3Doodler pens, and mixed physical media and materials. 4th graders created a generative poem which is “used to refer to any born-digital poetic project that uses code, algorithm, or other indeterminate means to generate poetic texts. The 4th graders also used the same tools to create an interactive poster about their animal which was designed with six geometric shapes and presented it to the class.

The school is comprised of a diverse student body and has F/R population of over 80%. Twenty-six of the students are Hispanic. The most memorable aspect of the project was the construction of the interactive posters and applying the Scratch Makey Makey extension and other extensions to modify text in the Scratch program with speech to text, Spanish translations, and student recording of sounds for their animals. Nineteen ELED candidates and 80+ 4th graders participated. The principal and teachers were most pleased with the engagement of their students over four days.