Introduction: Helpful Hoops

Problem Statement: Students are experiencing high stress levels during finals week, and our group wants to remedy this.

College students are continually under stress and this stress typically grows during the end of the semester and during finals week. Helpful hoops is a basketball game that can help decrease the stress of college students. Indiana University, the institution in which we attend, has held several events during the weeks leading up to finals. Helpful Hoops was designed with the intention of adding to the Indiana University stress relieving activities arsenal. It is something that Indiana University has taken seriously and has implemented other activities, such as Rent-a-Puppy”, “Jump into Finals”, as well as simply handing out baked goods to students, all designed to relieve stress and anxiety.

What does Helpful Hoops do?

To play the game, two students simultaneously shoot baskets, and at the end, both players receive motivational messages based on the outcome of their game. During beta testing, we were pleased to see that Helpful Hoops succeeded in its primary purpose of relieving stress. Beta testers were given a pre-game and post-game survey, and the survey results showed that before playing Helpful Hoops average stress was 7.375, rated on a scale of 1 to 10, and after playing Helpful Hoops, stress levels decreased to 5.5.

Helpful Hoops is comprised of two frames and two small basketball hoops. On the basketball hoops, there is a button mechanism that counts automatically when someone scores a basket. At the end of the game, there will likely be a winner and a loser, and both will receive motivational messages that are catered towards the outcome of the game. An example of a motivational quote is:

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

-Winston Churchill


Step 1: Getting the Code

Link to Code

In the code, there are a several “costumes”, and each "costume" represents a different symbol or character. When a basket is scored, it changes the costume. This is how the on screen counter keeps track of the score. The timer adopts a similar concept, and changes costume based on what number the "timer" variable is. As for the motivational quotes, when the game is completed, there is a message sent as to whether the person won or lost, and this will determine which quote they receive.

Before running the code, plug the Makey-Makey into your computer via the USB port.

Note: Make sure when running the code, that the green flag in the top right-hand corner is clicked.

Step 2: Building the Frame

To create the frame PVC pipe needs to be cut to the correct dimensions. Fourteen pieces of ten foot PVC were cut into the following pieces.

10 24” pieces

12 38” pieces

4 76” pieces

8 66” pieces

The joints used to put together the pieces are listed on the photo by each corner. “E” stands for elbow joint, “T” stands for tee joint, “C” stands for cross joint, and “F” stands for flexible.

After building the frame to make sure you have all the required pieces, screws were drilled into the outside of the 76” pieces to hang the net from. The screws were left partially out so that the fabric could be hooked around them. We used 6 screws for each side and one screw near the hoop to hook the net up behind the hoop.

Step 3: Making the "Button" for the Hoop

The button mechanism is built of a small laser cut piece of wood with copper tape on it and a spring with an aluminum foil on the end of it. Once the ball goes into the hoop, the spring is pushed down onto the copper tape, and this will push one of the Makey-Makey buttons, signaling that it should either increase the score for player one or player two.

To make the button mechanism, take the spring and cut it so that it is about five inches long and wrap a thin piece of aluminum foil around the tip. Once it is cut and the aluminum foil is on the spring, take the hot glue gun and glue the spring just under the rim so that it sticks out roughly three inches. Let this dry and test with your hand to make sure that it is on properly.

After completing the spring, laser cut a thin 2x3 piece of wood and cover it with copper tape. Take the laser cut piece of wood and hot glue it on to another five inch spring. After the hot glue has dried, take this piece and glue it on to the backboard towards the bottom. Before gluing the piece, make sure the spring connected to the rim can reach the copper tape platform.

Step 4: Connecting the Makey-Makey to the Hoop

To use the Makey-Makey it has to be connected to the button with wiring. The Makey-Makey has inputs that match a normal keyboards’, and the arrow keys were chosen to be the inputs. Electrical wiring was used to connect the piece of wood covered with copper tape to the ground on the Makey-Makey. The wire is soldered to the copper tape and wrapped around the ground portion to ensure a strong connection. The top spring was soldered to a wire that wraps around the input for the arrow keys. The left arrow key is set to be the input from the left hoop, that will be displayed as player one on the scratch make code. When the top spring touches the wood with conductive copper tape it completes the circuit because both pieces are connected to the Makey-Makey. Everytime the Makey-Makey senses that the circuit is complete the code will tell it to increase the respective players score.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

After gathering the various pieces of PVC pipe together and making the button, the hoop is ready to be assembled. The first step is forming the foundation by putting the PVC pipes together using the joints listed in materials. Once the frame is built, the netting must be attached using screws and the basket is placed on the back side of the frame with the wooden dowel rods keeping it attached to the frame.

After successfully building the basketball hoop, it is important to connect the Makey-Makey and computer screens to the basketball net. This allows for the score and messages to be displayed which creates the interactive atmosphere this game is designed to have. Ultimately, by going through the three prior steps, one will have built a stress alleviating, hope-providing basketball hoop that is ready to be utilized.