Introduction: Interactive Posters With Scratch & Makey Makey
This project demonstrates the way our students use the Makey Makey to connect posters to a Scratch project. Students conduct research on a topic and create a Scratch project that shares their learning. They then design and make a poster about their research that complements the Scratch project. Finally they connect the two for an interactive display.
This project would not exist without the help of K. Boyce.
Makey Makey Classic, Makey Makey Inventor Booster Kit, alligator clips, display board (cardboard, chipboard, poster board), brass fasteners, copper tape with conductive adhesive, general art supplies (crayons, markers, glue etc.).
Step 1: Create a Scratch Project
Create a Scratch project sharing information about any topic you have been learning about. The water cycle, landforms, US Presidents, fractions, parts of speech, or anything else. From the "Events" block palette, use the "when key pressed" block to run different parts of the program.
We use this as a work product choice for sharing student research. Students take notes from what ever sources are available (books, Brain Pop, online encyclopedias, expert interview, etc.) and plan a Scratch project. Depending on the grade level, the project can be fairly simple (the sprite says different facts with each key press) or much more complex (imported images, recorded voice overs, and animations). For younger students, we generally limit them to the 5 easiest to hook up inputs on the Makey Makey, space and the arrow keys.
Step 2: Create a Poster About Your Topic
Now it's time to design a poster about your topic. This can be done with whatever matreials you have: colored pencils or markers, or you can use construction paper or cardboard cut outs and glue these to the poster. As you plan, think about where you want to "buttons" (brass fasteners) to be. The buttons should be at least 3 inches apart so that the legs do not touch on the back of the poster. You will need one for each "when key pressed" block and one more for the ground. Mark the locations of yout buttons and be sure that the head of the brass fastener does not cover any important information.
When students are planning their posters and the locations of the touch points, it is a good time to talk to them about conserving materials. In the next step, copper foil tape will be used to connect the brass fasteners to the edges of the poster. In terms of set up, it is easist if the copper tape wires all lead to the same edge of the poster. Depending on the size of the poster board students are using, that could be a lot of tape.
Step 3: Add Buttons and Wires
- Push a brass fastener through the poster board from front to back. Fold the legs so they are flat against the back of the poster.
- Measure the distance from the brass fastener legs to the edge of the poster. Cut a piece of copper foil tape that is long enough to cover about half an inch of one fastener leg and extends about half an inch past the edge of the poster.
- Peel off about 2 inches of the paper backing on the copper tape. Cover a half inch of the fastener leg. Continue peeling the paper off the tape as you press the tape onto the back of the poster. Wrap the last half inch around to the front of the poster.
- Label the place where the tape meets the poster edge with the name of the matching key press. This will make it easier to connect at a later time.
- Repeat steps 1-4 with your other buttons. Be sure that the copper tape strips do not touch each other or your buttons will not work as expected.
Be sure that students know not to peel the backing paper off the copper tape all at once, It will almost certainly curl up on itself and become useless. It is also important that the copper foil does not touch other tape strips or fastener legs. This will create short circuits and cause unexpected key presses.
Step 4: Connect Your Poster to Your Scratch Project
- Connect alligator clips to the connections at the edge of your poster.
- Connec the other end of each clip to the matching input on the Makey Makey.
- Connect the Makey Makey to the computer.
- Run your Scratch program
- Touch the ground point with one hand and one of the key press points with the other. Your Scratch program should run the script attached to that key press.
If this is your students' first experience with the Makey Makey, it is a good idea to do a separate introductory lesson on how to handle, set up, use, and repack the device.