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Make!Sense is a system that lets you use almost any sensor with your laptop or smartphone for fun, interactive learning experiences.
Make!Sense is a system that lets you use almost any sensor with your laptop or smartphone for fun, interactive learning experiences.
212 backers pledged $18,549 to help bring this project to life.

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Introducing Make!Sense: a Universal Interface for Learning About the Physical World.

Make!Sense is an easy-to-use platform for making learning fun and interactive. It’s a universal interface system that allows you to quickly and easily connect different types of sensors to your computer or smartphone. You can use Make!Sense to observe movement, moisture, light, temperature, even your own heartbeat! If you’re curious about it, you can probably Make!Sense of it.

Here’s how it works: if you’re using the Make!Sense Mini, just plug it into the audio jack of any desktop, laptop, iPad, tablet, or smartphone. If you’re using the Make!Sense Max, you’ll attach it to a computer via USB. Then just connect a compatible sensor to the sensor port - there are sensors for monitoring almost anything, and we’ll be including some of the most useful ones in all of our reward bundles.

Once that’s hooked up, use that sensor to monitor whatever activity you are tracking, and use Sense!Suite - the Make!Sense software - to visualize and record the incoming data.  Or, for even more possibilities, you can write your own program in languages like Scratch or Processing.

I’ve been teaching for 15 years.  One of my daily challenges as an instructor is making learning fun and engaging, so that it’s memorable to my students.  I was searching for tools to help with this and found two options: expensive systems that worked well for a very specific purpose, like those from Vernier or Pasco, or open-ended systems like Arduino that require lots of technical knowledge to use, and don’t include any content or ideas.

I created Make!Sense to be the best of both worlds. It has many of the capabilities of expensive systems, while retaining the open-ended possibilities of the open-source solutions.  We’re also developing the hardware with a curriculum in mind - we want this to be a tool that’s easy for both students and teachers to use.  And best of all, it’s priced low enough that schools can invest in multiple units per classroom.

Who is Make!Sense for?

Make!Sense is for educators, designers, and tinkerers.  Each of the topic bundles comes with a set of specialized experiments and the necessary sensors, so you can quickly get students involved in hands-on learning, without any coding or soldering!  

But Make!Sense isn’t just about doing experiments from a book.  Since the system allows you to easily connect many different data sources to your computer or smartphone, students and educators can design their own experiments - encouraging deeper participation in the scientific process. 

Use Make!Sense to:

  • Collect data from experiments, like our included examples or others that you design!
  • Connect computer programs to the physical world, like building a steering wheel controller from scavenged parts.
  • Make a new musical instrument that you play without touching anything.
  • Teach about physical computing and human-computer interaction.
  • Enhance programs written in Scratch, Processing, Python, or other languages!
Works great with Scratch!
Works great with Scratch!

Why Kickstarter?

Make!Sense already exists as a fully functional prototype - but we need your help to complete the software, called “Sense!Suite.”  With funding from this campaign, we’ll be able to improve Sense!Suite and launch it not only on the computer, but also build great mobile versions for Android and iPhone.  We’ll also be able use some funds to continue expanding the Make!Sense curriculum.

We also already have some great ideas about curriculum development if we're able to consider stretch goals, so we hope to take this well above our funding target!

With your help, we’ll be able to start with a great set of modules & experiments - and we’ll have the funds we need to continue developing the Make!Sense platform.


About the Rewards

$5 - Smartphone Accelerometer Secret Source Code

Annotated source code for Processing or JavaScript that lets Smartphone users make use of several of the sensors that are built into Smartphones for fun and science. Shows how to access accelerometer data and gives source code examples in Processing.

$15 - Photocell jewelry: wear your curiosity on your sleeve! 

Photocell Pin!
Photocell Pin!

Wear this pin made from a photocell to show your interest in learning about the world around you!

Make!Sense Mini (Microphone Jack) Bundles

Make!Sense Mini
Make!Sense Mini

$39 - Make!Sense Mini Starter bundle

You’ll receive the smaller Make!Sense board that plugs into the audio jack of your computer, tablet, or phone, and a selection of simple sensors and accesories such as:

  • photocell
  • proximity sensor
  • tilt sensor
  • screwdriver
  • thermistor

$59 - Make!Sense Mini Advanced bundle

You’ll receive the smaller Make!Sense board that plugs into the audio jack of your computer, tablet, or phone, and a large selection of sensors and accessories such as:

  • external battery pack for advanced sensors
  • photocell
  • Hall effect magnetic sensor
  • tilt sensor
  • temperature probe
  • distance ranging sensor
  • three axis accelerometer

$79 - Make!Sense Max (USB) Starter Bundle:

Make!Sense Max
Make!Sense Max

You’ll receive our larger, USB-based board with 8 inputs. Works with Scratch and Processing as well as other programs and games. Comes with a selection of bare wire sensors and accessories such as:  

  • photocell
  • potentiometer
  • thermistor
  • proximity sensor
  • magnetic-reed switch and Hall effect sensor
  • tilt sensor
  • screwdriver

Make!Sense Max Topic Classroom Bundles:

These include THREE Make!Sense Max boards and USB Micro cables plus sensors dedicated to specific curriculum and included experiments. These simplified, ready-to-run programs will work in Scratch or Processing and will allow students to graph and save data to complete the experiments. There will also be a library of videos and instructions for various experiments and projects, plus user-contributed material from our growing user community.

$149 - Physics Bundle

Physic Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)
Physic Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)

This bundle will include 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus advanced sensors and content for exploring the physical world - students will learn about topics like how force translates into movement, such as acceleration due to gravity, conservation of momentum, and other topics of basic Newtonian physics. 

  • Three Make!Sense Max boards and USB cables
  • All the basic sensors in the starter kit plus special sensors like:
  • force sensitive resistor
  • IR ranging sensor
  • load cell for weight measurement
  • long distance beam interruptor
  • three axis accelerometer

$129 - Health Bundle

Health Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)
Health Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)

This bundle will include 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content to help students begin to learn about how we use technology to measure the human body.

  • Three Make!Sense Max boards and USB cables
  • All the basic sensors in the starter kit plus special sensors like:
  • heartbeat sensor with earclip
  • heartbeat sensor for skin surface
  • galvanic skin response
  • load cell for strength testing
  • temperature sensor with probe

$129 - Earth Science and Weather

Earth Science Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)
Earth Science Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)

This bundle includes 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content to learn about the Earth and how its complex systems nourish plant and animal life.

  • Three Make!Sense Max boards and USB cables
  • All the basic sensors in the starter kit plus special sensors like:
  • Three water level sensors
  • Three soil moisture sensors
  • accurate temperature sensor
  • anemometer kit
  • photocell for sun and light intensity
  • motion sensor

$129 - Music Bundle

Music Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)
Music Bundle (Note: includes 3 Make!Sense boards, not just the one shown here!)

This bundle includes 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content for music creators who want to create novel interfaces for musical expression; you’ll be able to use this kit to create touch-less instruments similar to a Theremin, creations that react to sound, and much more. Source code and examples for Scratch and Processing will be provided for both synthesized sound and Midi sound.

  • Three Make!Sense Max boards and USB cables
  • All the basic sensors in the starter kit plus special sensors like:
  • distance ranging sensor
  • three axis accelerometer
  • piezo vibration sensor
  • touch sensor
  • magnetic sensor
  • conductive rubber sensor

$240 - Make!Sense Constructivist Bundle

This is the ultimate bundle to experience all of the possibilities of the Make!Sense system.  The bundle includes 5 Make!Sense Max boards, 5 Make!Sense Mini boards, as well as a complete set of the sensors.  While most of the bundles include 4-6 advanced sensors, this bundle will include 15 or more!  That means it’s great for using the Make!Sense boards to create interfaces that use multiple sensors at the same time like our 4-channel Theremin or collaborative games that require multiple players.  And those are just our ideas - we expect backers who select this bundle to become core members of our growing community, and we’re incredibly excited to see their ideas become reality!

$390 - Classroom Pack

Mix and match choice of 15 Make!Sense Max or Make!Sense Mini units with 15 starter pack bare sensor sets plus one sensor each from the above bundle categories.

$950 - Individual Onsite Consulting and Lesson Design plus Make!Sense Constructivist Bundle

The inventor will visit your NYC area school, consult with your teaching staff, individualize a curriculum unit, and teach a lesson.  You’ll get a great head start and have a Constructivist Bundle for your class.

Risks and challenges

We have overcome the challenges of design, production, supply chain and sourcing. The boards are fully tested and working, with many teachers and institutions using them and giving us feedback. We do not anticipate difficulties in ramping up production if demand increases.

The current challenges involve improving the configuration software, the display and recording software and the curriculum components. It is a challenge to support a wide variety of platforms, particularly in the area of mobile devices. The funds from this Kickstarter campaign will enable us to port the software from Java to other languages less susceptible to operating system upgrades. The user interface for our software needs substantial improvement.

Our Max USB board is well positioned to be stable and robust. Our Mini microphone port board is more vulnerable to incomplete implementation of the HTML5 standards in order to support our goal of having it be entirely browser-based and run as a web application. The wide variety of standards in hardware, operating systems, screen sizes, etc. could make the mobile device a difficult target.

Last, we will need to engage educators and students to help us develop cogent experiments and easy-to-follow documentation, to enable speedy preparation for high-quality teaching. This challenge requires us to extend substantial outreach to dozens of teachers who are capable of applying the design to experiments and projects that engage students on a creative level, and then distributing that knowledge and experience with the product to others.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $1 or more About $1.00

    GRACIOUS THANKS FOREVER: We just want you to know that any pledge is appreciated. Thank you so much.

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    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    SMARTPHONE ACCELEROMETER SECRET SAUCE SOURCE CODE: Annotated source code for Processing or JavaScript that lets Smartphone users make use of several of the sensors that are built into smartphones for fun and science. Shows how to access accelerometer data and gives source code examples in Processing.

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    PHOTOCELL JEWELRY - Wear this pin made from a photocell to show your interest in learning about the world around you!

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    Pledge $29 or more About $29

    MAKE!SENSE MINI (AUDIO JACK) STARTER BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD: You’ll receive the smaller Make!Sense board that plugs into the audio jack of your computer, tablet, or phone, and a selection of simple sensors.

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    Pledge $39 or more About $39

    MAKE!SENSE MINI (AUDIO JACK) STARTER BUNDLE: You’ll receive the smaller Make!Sense board that plugs into the audio jack of your computer, tablet, or phone, and a selection of simple sensors.

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    Pledge $49 or more About $49

    MAKE!SENSE MINI (AUDIO JACK) ADVANCED BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD: You’ll receive the smaller Make!Sense board that plugs into the audio jack of your computer, tablet, or phone, and a large selection of sensors and accessories.

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    Pledge $59 or more About $59

    MAKE!SENSE MINI (AUDIO JACK) ADVANCED BUNDLE: You’ll receive the smaller Make!Sense board that plugs into the audio jack of your computer, tablet, or phone, and a large selection of sensors and accessories.

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    Pledge $69 or more About $69

    MAKE!SENSE MAX (USB) BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD: You’ll receive our larger, USB-based board with 8 inputs. Works with Scratch and Processing as well as other programs and games. Comes with a wide selection of bare wire sensors and accessories.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge $79 or more About $79

    MAKE!SENSE MAX (USB) BUNDLE: You’ll receive our larger, USB-based board with 8 inputs. Works with Scratch and Processing as well as other programs and games. Comes with a wide selection of bare wire sensors and accessories.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge $109 or more About $109

    HEALTH TOPIC BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD: This bundle will include 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content to help students begin to learn about how we use technology to learn about the human body.

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    Pledge $109 or more About $109

    EARTH SCIENCE AND WEATHER TOPIC BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD: This bundle includes 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content to learn about the Earth and how its complex systems nourish plant and animal life.

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    Pledge $109 or more About $109

    MUSIC TOPIC BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD : This bundle includes 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content for musical creators who want to create novel interfaces for musical expression; you’ll be able to use this kit to create touch-less instruments similar to a Theremin, creations that react to sound, and much more. Source code and examples for Scratch and Processing will be provided for both synthesized and Midi sound.

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  13. Select this reward

    Pledge $125 or more About $125

    PHYSICS TOPIC BUNDLE - EARLY BIRD: This bundle will include 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus advanced sensors and content for exploring the physical world - students will learn about topics like how force translates into movement, such as acceleration due to gravity, conservation of momentum, and other topics of basic Newtonian physics.

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  14. Select this reward

    Pledge $129 or more About $129

    HEALTH TOPIC BUNDLE: This bundle will include 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content to help students begin to learn about how we use technology to learn about the human body.

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  15. Select this reward

    Pledge $129 or more About $129

    EARTH SCIENCE AND WEATHER TOPIC BUNDLE: This bundle includes 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content to learn about the Earth and how its complex systems nourish plant and animal life.

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    1 backer
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  16. Select this reward

    Pledge $129 or more About $129

    MUSIC TOPIC BUNDLE: This bundle includes 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus sensors and content for musical creators who want to create novel interfaces for musical expression; you’ll be able to use this kit to create touch-less instruments similar to a Theremin, creations that react to sound, and much more. Source code and examples for Scratch and Processing will be provided for both synthesized and Midi sound.

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    2 backers
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  17. Select this reward

    Pledge $149 or more About $149

    PHYSICS TOPIC BUNDLE: This bundle will include 3 Make!Sense Max boards plus advanced sensors and content for exploring the physical world - students will learn about topics like how force translates into movement, such as acceleration due to gravity, conservation of momentum, and other topics of basic Newtonian physics.

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    4 backers
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  18. Select this reward

    Pledge $240 or more About $240

    MAKE!SENSE CONSTRUCTIVIST BUNDLE: This is the ultimate bundle to experience all of the possibilities of the Make!Sense system. The bundle includes 5 Make!Sense Max boards, 5 Make!Sense Mini boards, as well as a complete set of the sensors. While most of the bundles include 4-6 advanced sensors, this bundle will include 15 or more! That means it’s great for using the Make!Sense boards to create interfaces that use multiple sensors at the same time like our 4-channel Theremin or collaborative games that require multiple players. And those are just our ideas - we expect backers who select this bundle to become core members of our growing community, and we’re incredibly excited to see their ideas become reality!

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    23 backers
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  19. Select this reward

    Pledge $390 or more About $390

    CLASSROOM PACK: Mix and match choice of 15 MakeSense! Max or MakeSense Mini units with 15 starter pack bare sensor sets plus one sensor each from the above bundle categories.

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  20. Select this reward

    Pledge $950 or more About $950

    INDIVIDUAL ONSITE CONSULTING AND LESSON DESIGN plus MAKE!SENSE CONSTRUCTIVIST BUNDLE: The inventor will visit your NYC area school, consult with your teaching staff, individualize a curriculum unit, and teach a lesson. You’ll get a great head start and have a Constructivist Bundle for your class.

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    Limited 0 backers
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Funding period

- (30 days)