Introduction: STEM in the Gym Makey Makey and Scratch Challenge

About: Computers are going bananas! Use #makeymakey to practice invention literacy and connect the world to your computer.

This Genius Hour project is based on Round Hill PE's super awesome Makey Makey "STEM in the Gym" project. We created this guide for teachers that want to challenge students to create their own physical activity projects with Makey Makey and Scratch. Each day is based on a 45 minute class period. For this guide, students were able to work on projects during Genius Hour time and the whole project took about 2 weeks from start to finish that is including teaching time and free work time.

You'll want to make copies (digital or physical) of this student Google Doc to share with student groups at the beginning of this challenge!

To introduce this project to students, first present the problem:

Problem: Video games are sedentary. How might we design a game to get kids to be more active?

Solutions: Some examples of physical game solutions with Scratch and Makey Makey:

Ask students to define prototyping in the Google doc and talk about how Makey Makey combined with Scratch can be a quick prototyping tool!


Step 1: Day 1: Introduce Makey Makey

Explore and Play

If you haven't introduced Makey Makey to your students yet, you should have a piano day! Hook up Makey Makey to lots of different materials and use different piano apps to show how Makey Makey works with keyboard presses.

Sketch it! Play it!

After experimenting with different materials, have students make a playable pencil drawing. Share that drawings must have separate connections and that each drawing will be conductive and different key press! Then have students hook up their own drawings to their favorite piano app.

Step 2: Day 2: Make a Switch and Teach Scratch

Simple Switches

Teach students how to create a simple momentary switch with foil and paper, and how to hook it up to Makey Makey and control it with Scratch. Here is a downloadable pdf if you would like to print and laminate switch instructions!

Getting Started with Scratch

You might also want to print and laminate some of these "Getting Started with Makey Makey and Scratch" guides if your students that have never worked with Scratch or Makey Makey before!

Share the Makey Makey extension as a way to connect Makey Makey and Scratch and let kids tinker and play with creating their first Scratch project.

Step 3: Day 3: Teach Scoring and Timers

Scoring Variables

Show how to make a scoring variable in Scratch in the Variable palette and how to change the score by using a key press. Full code is available in the student GoogleDoc, but go through creating this with students so they can see which palette to find each Scratch block.

Create variables for scoring and timer in the variable palette. You’ll set the score to zero with the < WHEN [flag] clicked> block. You’ll want to assign the score to change on a key press. You can alter the variable for different key presses depending on your challenge! You may need a block to keep players from pressing and holding on your switch and scoring too quickly!


Share how to make timers and ask students to offer suggestions on how a timer can help get other kids active in their proposed game. (Timer instructions are also in this student GoogleDoc.)

You can create a timer quickly with the block by changing your timer variable by 1 every second. If you want to make a 60 second relay game, where players switch halfway through the game, you can add this code:

WHEN [flag] clicked

SET [timer] to [60]

SHOW variable [timer]

REPEAT until [timer] = [30]


WAIT [1] seconds

SAY [Change player!] for [2] seconds

REPEAT until[timer] = [0]


WAIT [1] seconds

SAY [Time is up!] for [2] seconds

Brainstorming and Drafting

At this point, I share with students how I might combine switches and scoring to create a few different project ideas. I could make a low jump/high jump scoring game, jumping jack game, etc. Have students tinker with creating scoring code and timer code in Scratch. Plus, give students time to brainstorm project ideas together and start talking about the STEM in the Gym Project they want to create with Scratch and Makey Makey! Make sure to allow time for students to sketch out project ideas!

Step 4: Work Time!

Give students a few days to put together project ideas. Let them try out ideas and change their project as needed! Our students worked on this project in their "Genius Hour" time for a week or so before we shared their projects with PE classes.

When students are finished with projects, you may want them to share details via this form (make a copy of the form for your classes!) and write a "Rules and Expectations" poster to be placed by each game on challenge day.

Step 5: Showcase Projects

Schedule a day in the gym to share projects with a few classes! Let the makers of projects guide small groups through their games!

See the games created by elementary students in this video!

Games Contest

Participated in the
Games Contest