Introduction: Speakable Cells

Collaborative partners, Julie Kuzma (Instructional Facilitator of Technology) and Lexi DeHaven (5th grade teacher) created a project where students combined plant cells and coding into a Speakable Cell. The project allows for students to work as a team to outline the parts of the cell, define those words, then in Scratch use block coding for each part of the cell to speak. Makey Makey is the tool used to teach us about plant cells.

It covers Virginia State Standards: 4.3b, 5.1d, 5.2d, 5.5a, 5.5b, 5.5c, 5.5d

Templates can be found at the end of the lesson.


one set of Makey Makey

one device per group

6 colors of clay product or construction paper

paper clips

copper tape and/or tin foil

planning sheet

cell template

Step 1: Logging in and Sprites

Logging into Scratch

1. Enter username and password given to you by your teacher

2. Click create


1. You will need 6 sprites. It will not matter which ones you choose. They will only hold the code to make your cell ‘talk’.

2. Click on the blue circle with the cat head found in the lower right corner of your screen.

3. Roll your mouse over the icon and select the magnifying glass

4. Select ANY sprite. Repeat this step 5 times so you have a total of 6 sprites in the ‘stage’ area. This is the upper right corner of your screen.

Step 2: Adding an Extension

1. On the left side of the window you will see colored circles that organize the different types of coding blocks.

2. Look below it to find a blue rectangle with a small white + and white coding blocks. Click it to open the extensions.

3. Locate the Makey Makey icon and click it.

4. You are successful when you see Makey Makey below “My Blocks”

Step 3: Code and Recording


1. Select a sprite below the ‘stage’. You will know it’s selected when there is a blue outline around it.

2. Click the Makey Makey block option on the left of the screen.

3. Left click and drag the block that shows ‘When space key pressed’ from the script palette to the script area.


1. Click on the ‘sounds’ tab at the top of the screen.

2. Roll over the volume icon in the lower left corner

3. Select the microphone icon

4. Begin talking and make sure the green bars go up and down. If they don’t, make sure mute isn’t on.

5. Click the red button to record and ‘stop’ to end it.

6. Move red bars to trim up clip.

7. At the top of the screen is a ‘Sound’ field to name your recording. Rename it to show the part of the cell.

8. Click ‘save’.
9. In the ‘play sound’ block, click the drop-down menu and select your recorded sound.

10. You will need to repeat these steps with each sprite.

a. In the green block, use the drop down menu to access different parts of the Makey Makey board.

b. Be sure to select the recorded sound in the purple block.

The final step is to connect the Makey Makey alligator clips to an object. As you touch the objects and earth it will speak.

Step 4: Makey Makey-power and Connect

Power up Makey Makey

1. Holding the red cord, plug the large USB end into a laptop.

2. Plug the micro USB into the port on the board

3. Using the color cords, plug one end of the alligator clip into the area as it’s noted below.The colors and arrows correspond with template.

Gray-up arrow

Yellow-down arrow

Orange-right arrow

White-left arrow

Light green-space

Dark green-click


4. Attach each end of the Makey Makey clip to a conductor on the correct part of the cell.

Test Your Work

1. Hold one end of the Earth cord in your hand. The other end will be attached to Earth on the board.

2. Tap your cell and make sure you hear your recording.

**You will NOT need to touch anything on the computer to make this work. Your body is completing the electric circuit.**

Step 5: Templates

Plant Cell Template

This template will show the outline of the plant cell.

Planning Chart

This template will have three columns. Column one will have the cord and clay color. The second column students can use to name each of the parts of the cell. Column three students can write a definition. This will be helpful when they are creating the recording for each part of the cell.

Makey Makey Contest

Participated in the
Makey Makey Contest