Introduction: Drawdio/MakeyMakey Conductive Drawing Murals

About: Mr. Christopher Sweeney is a 1996 graduate of University of the Art’s Philadelphia College of Art and Design with a B.F.A. in Fine Arts/Painting and Drawing, and recently received his M.A., also from the Unive…

The user, whether they are a student or an adult, will begin to understand using conductive elements through drawing with Drawdios and MakeyMakey. This is a great group builder, has low ceiling and wide walls for learning, and has no pressure to the builder or creator as an entryway in to learning about different ways art and design can be used with conductive elements.


Makey Makey Classic, Makey Makey GO, Drawdio, butcher/large scale drawing paper, graphite pencils, Scratch, graphite sticks, copper tape, tinfoil, alligator clips

Step 1: Discovery/Introduction

Before you start this project, I would encourage you to play the link I have attached of Jay Silver with the original Drawdio from Youtube (as well as Eric Rosenbaum) . This will help the students understand how it works with what conductive materials work best with the Drawdio and the MakeyMakey.

In this part, you will be breaking your class into sections. I have six tables in my class, with four seats for each table. I like my Drawdios to be in boxes, and I have designed 3D printed/laser cut ones for each of the six I use. If you only have MakeyMakeys, they work just as great except there will need to be Scratch running, or at the minimum the Piano app on the MakeyMakey website to link up to trigger their drawings.Here is the link:

MakeyMakey Piano

The goals will be a little different for the Drawdio drawings than the ones using MakeyMakey. The Drawdio drawings the four students need to plan and start at one section or corner and work towards the middle, so that all drawings touch or interact with one another. Very important, the drawings need to be REALLY DARK. 8B or Ebony pencils, or graphite sticks from Blick, my closest art store:

Graphite Sticks.

I tend to do a quick demonstration on how dark to draw the lines on a separate sheet of paper.Today I actually had a staff example when I ran a professional development session this fall which helped the students understand the concept further.I also go over how to attach the Drawdio/MakeyMakey with the alligator clips, and how to hold it to be the most successful.Since my Drawdios are all one-or-a-kind, I tend to show each table how to use them and care for them since they are either in flea market found recycled boxes, laser cut wood/acrylic enclosures.

For MakeyMakey, the students will need to to leave at least six or more sections separate to trigger the Scratch program or a MakeyMakey app.

Educator Tip:

This is a messy project just with the graphite and the dust it creates, but it is a multi-day project. It is good to label the drawings, roll them up with a stickie note so it creates less stress when storing them. Cut the paper beforehand as well, and have extras sheets if the student rip the designs by accident. I also have used copper tape, tin foil to the design. Most students usually stick with the purist way of just graphite being used on the drawing.

Step 2: Creating


From there, the sky is the limit. I have had all sorts of abstract designs, geometric patterns, robots, characters, you name it. I am less concerned with the final product as I am with the experience, although I do make a contest for our design show as the best exemplars and creative get shown to the public. There really is no right or wrong as long as the whole design/drawing is conductive, as long as you and your students can link hands and make the current go from one part of the drawing to the other. Have fun!!!!

Educator Tip:

Do some guiding with the drawing, but not so much you smoother the students. As far as the MakeyMakey drawings as opposed to the pure Drawdios, there needs to be sections that are self-contained to trigger the Scratch coding.