Introduction: Makey Makey Global Arcade

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This is a project I assign to my Makerspace students that utilizes the Makey Makey and Scratch (along with a number of other materials). Depending on how often you meet with your students and how long your period/block is, this project's duration could be a few weeks to a few months.

Feel free to modify criteria and constraints as you see fit based on age groups and available materials/equipment.

I provide the following to them when introducing the project:

OBJECTIVE: In 2015 The United Nations launched The Global Goals for Sustainable Development, a series of ambitious targets to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice and fix climate change for everyone by 2030. If the Goals are met, they ensure the health, safety and future of the planet for everyone on it. And their best chance of being met is if everyone on the planet is aware of them.

DESIGN BRIEF: Your design team must create an entertaining and educational classic arcade-style game for children (ages 7-9) based on one of the 17 GLOBAL GOALS: You are responsible for both the software and hardware required to operate the game. The game will debut during an event where MBS students, staff and community members will attend to beta test.

IMPORTANT: Your team will be required to keep a weekly DESIGN NOTEBOOK. This should be a Google DRIVE document that is shared with your design partner and the teacher. This will be a weekly progress grade.


  • Game system must be safe to operate
  • Game system must be age appropriate
  • Game must have clear theme and objectives based on a Global Goal
  • Hardware interface must control game play in Scratch environment
  • Hardware interface must be easy to understand
  • Game structure must have multiple levels of achievement for prolonged user engagement
  • Screen/system must have aesthetically pleasing custom-built housing (monitor shroud like an arcade console) that relates to theme
  • Game system must have at least one 3D printed component of your own design – this may be functional or decorative
  • Game system must include external LEDs or motor output triggered by the Makey Makey.
  • Game must include original 8-bit classic arcade style music composed with Chrome Song Maker (this can be recorded/downloaded with a Chrome extension)
  • Game must include original sprite artwork with multiple costumes
  • Game must include custom voices/sounds supplied by students
  • Game system must reset itself upon game completion for next player
  • Game system may not utilize a computer mouse or keyboard


  • Makey Makey
  • Alligator clips
  • PC with external monitor or laptop
  • Scratch
  • Cardboard/Paper
  • Wood
  • masonite
  • Glue
  • Duct Tape
  • 22 AWG Wire
  • LEDs, solder, soldering iron
  • Bare Conductive paint
  • Graphite
  • Copper tape
  • Play-doh? Oobleck? Water?
  • OTHER (use your creativity!)


As a preliminary step for this project, I have students open Scratch software (either online or downloaded/local) and complete self-guided tutorials. I typically assign the first seven as this will give them enough of an introduction to the coding environment to understand its functionality and an apply it to their projects.

Scratch Offical Website


Once students have become somewhat familiar with software development with Scratch, I introduce them to the Makey Makey - a printed circuit board that allows makers to turn everyday conductive objects into switches. View the How-To videos via the link below to start:

Makey Makey How-To

I then hold a mini-clinic and show students how to connect the Makey Makey to the computer with included USB cable (the MM is bus powered - no need for external power supply). Next, I show them how to connect alligator clips to the arrows on the MM. These then get connected to conductive objects, such as a ball of Play Doh, aluminum foil, fruit or pencil graphite drawn on paper.

Once students see how this works, they are basically ready to start inventing their first prototypes.


As the project progresses, students work in pairs to develop their game systems. The project essentially runs itself. Along the way, I facilitate by offering mini-clinics on skills they can incorporate. These are 15 minutes at most.

Some will include:

  • How to cut cardboard more effectively using a utility/craft knife, metal straightedge, and cutting matte
  • How to cut and strip solid core wire (AWG 22) using a wire stripper
  • Advanced functions of the Makey Makey - how to use the headers on the back
  • What is an LED and how can it be used with the Makey Makey?


After a few weeks of project development, students should be able to present a first rough prototype. It should give an idea as to how the game is intended to look and feel. It is by no means the final product. At this point, the teacher (and student beta testers) should provide useful user feedback for the designers to guide them in improving the system. How many prototypes you allow to be developed before the final prototype presentation is up to you.


In my classes, I like to stage an event as a presentation deadline. In the case of the Makey Makey Global Arcade, I ask my admin to allow for 2-3 blocks on a given day to be devoted to the event. I then invite in all school community members - teachers, students, parents, etc. - to try out the games. My student designers love this as they get to see the user experience and the guests love it because is a fun, festive event that celebrates the hard work of my students.

See video for more info:

Wildcat Global Arcade


When I first started assigning this arcade project to my students, it did not have the "global" component, meaning that the game themes were not related to the UN Global Goals. However, the project was still successful and kept students extremely engaged. Here are a couple videos that highlight these events:


Little Red Arcade Video

LITTLE RED ARCADE 2016-2017 (Arcade segment starts at 3:21)

Little Red Arcade 2016-2017

LITTLE RED ARCADE 2017-2018 (Arcade segment starts at 6:00)

Little Red Arcade 2017-2018