Biography Bottles With Makey Makey

Introduction: Biography Bottles With Makey Makey

This project demonstrates the way our students use the Makey Makey combined with Scratch to create an interactive "Wax Museum". Students conduct research on the historical figure of their choice and program a Scratch project to share what they learned. They next make use of the recycling bin to create models of their person which are then connected to the Scratch Project with a Makey Makey. This project is a joint endeavor with bquentin3


Makey Makey Classic, Makey Makey Inventor Booster Kit, brass fasteners, alligator clips, 3X5 inch piece of display board (cardboard, chipboard, poster board, card stock), plastic bottle, general art supplies (yarn, crayons, glue, markers, chenille sticks, scissors, construction paper, fabric scraps).

Step 1: Create a Scratch Project

Create a Scratch project sharing the facts you have learned about your historical figure. From the "Events" block palette use the "when green flag clicked" to introduce yourself (Hi! I'm Ada Lovelace!). Use the "when space key pressed" block to trigger your facts. Each fact should be on a different key press (up arrow, down arrow, etc.). Use the "say __ for X seconds" to share your facts.

You can draw your own portrait of your person for your sprite or upload a picture (make sure it isn't copyright protected!). After the base project is completed, you can add relevant backgrounds, add music or voice overs to your facts, or any other elaboration you chose. Don't forget to cite your research and image sources!

Educator Tip:

We assign this in stages. Students must complete their research and turn in notes before beginning their Scratch project. They must have programmed the basic sharing of facts before they can elaborate the project or start raiding the maker material bins. You can explain it like a video game - you must "master" different levels to get more "powers".

Step 2: Create the Biography Bottle

Design and build a model of your historical figure using reused or scrap materials. Start with a sturdy base (a bottle, or other cylindrical container, make a good choice) and add a head. You can draw this on paper or get fancy with yarn or cotton ball hair, googly eyes, chenille stick limbs, or other extras. Dress your person appropriately for their time period/ work. The clothes can be drawn on construction paper, or assembled from fabric scraps, felt, or anything else you have available.

Educator Tip:

Before starting this activity review expectations for material use and conservation. I assign a manager for each material and tool they have out to facilitate clean up (glue manager, marker manager, cardboard manager, etc.)

Step 3: Make the Conductive Plate

Punch holes along the long edge a 3x5 piece of display board (cardboard, chipboard, card stock, etc.). Make sure the holes do not touch. You will need a hole for each key press you programmed. Insert a brass fastener into each hole and separate the prongs until they are flush with the display board. One set of legs will extend past the edge of the conductive plate. These are the buttons for your "Wax Museum" display.

Create a label for your plate and attach your Biography Bottle.

Educator Tip:

Unless you have kid-safe cardboard tools (MakeDo is one brand that produces these), you will need to punch all the holes in the conductive plates with an X-acto or similar tool.

Step 4: Connect the Makey Makey

Now you are ready to connect the Makey Makey! Connect alligator clips to the legs of the brass fasteners that protrude from the conductive plate. It is a good idea to mark which button you want to trigger each key press. Connect the other end of each alligator clip to the matching input on the Makey Makey. Make sure you have a clip attached to the ground. Connect the Makey Makey to the computer. Run your Scratch program. Hold the ground clip (making sure you are touching the metal part) and lightly touch each button.

Educator Tip:

If this is your students' first experience with the Makey Makey, it is a good idea to teach a mini lesson about its components, setting up, and packing it away.

Be the First to Share


    • Block Code Contest

      Block Code Contest
    • Battery Powered Contest

      Battery Powered Contest
    • Plastic Contest

      Plastic Contest