Introduction: Timed Obstacle Course Game Using Scratch and Makey Makey

Many students (and adults!) enjoy making and playing games. This project uses everyday items and a Makey Makey kit to create an obstacle course game where students use a ball to manoeuvre around obstacles and score points by getting the ball over points of electrical conduction.


Cardboard box

Extra cardboard pieces, or strong paper



Aluminium foil

Makey Makey Kit with extra alligator clips

Computer with Scratch

Step 1: Prepare Your Game Box

You will need to find a suitably sized box to fit some cardboard obstacle and switches. The box used for this game is approximately 70cm x 30cm.

Cut the flaps off the box. Use scissors or a sharp knife. If you require adult supervision to complete this step, please make sure you have it. For this project, a Ryobi Multitool was used.

Try to cut the longer flaps very carefully so you can use them for the next step.

Step 2: Create a Raised Level Inside the Box

Take the two long flaps from the original box and tape them together. For this project, construction strength tape was used. This creates a raised level that will become your game board. This creates a void between the game board and the box for the alligator wires and Makey Makey to sit safely.

From the additional cardboard, cut four rectangles approximately 5cm x 10cm. Fold them in half lengthways. Tape these pieces standing up at the base of each corner in the box. Tape them so that when the raised level is placed inside the box, it sits on the top folded part of the rectangles.

You can see that I covered my level with cute paper at this step. It is not necessary, but it's a bit of fun. If you do choose to cover the level, ensure that you can still poke holes through it easily for a later step.

Place your level inside the box.

Step 3: Cut a Starting Hole in the Box

You will need cut a hole in the box as your starting entry hole for your game ball.

You will need to sight where your inside level is and this will be where the bottom of your hole will be. I traced a circle shape at this level on the short end of the box.

You will then need to cut the hole out. You can use scissors, a sharp knife, or in the case of this project, a Ryobi Multitool.

The edge of the circle was a bit ragged, so it was covered with Duct Tape to reinforce it.

Step 4: Obstacle Construction

You will need to construct your obstacles using spare cardboard. This project demonstrates several different cardboard joining techniques. There is an in-exhaustive diagram included to see joining technique types.

This project uses a flange, L-brace, slot,insert and tab cardboard attachment techniques. You will need to use scissors to assist with some of the construction.

Step 5: Create a Pressure Switch

Using a piece of cardboard, fold it in half lengthways. Put something between the layers such as a pop stick, piece of foam, or another piece of cardboard; something that will help hold the top layer up until it's time for pressure to activate it.

You will need to cut two pieces of aluminium foil that match the sizes of the inner sides of the switch. Glue the aluminium foil to the inner sides of the switch. Ensure the aluminium foil is close to the edges as they will become points of contact for the alligator clips.

Step 6: Create an Arch Switch

Shape a pipe-cleaner into an arch shape. Cut a rectangular piece of aluminium foil that reaches from the bottom of the arch to the top and back to the bottom. Fold the rectangle over the middle of the pipe-cleaner. Wrap the aluminium foil around the pipe-cleaner twice to keep it in place.

Step 7: Create a Straddle Switch or Two

To create a straddle switch, use a strip of aluminium foil and fold it up until you have a rectangle approximately 6cm x 4cm. Cut this rectangle in half long ways. Now you have two thin rectangles the same size. These rectangles will be placed side by side in a similar fashion to their original shape, but with a cam strip separating them down the middle. Refer to the photo for reference.

For this project, two straddle switches were made.

Step 8: Create a Gateway Switch

Using spare cardboard, cut a rectangle approximately 5cm x 12cm. Fold it in half lengthways. Cover the inner side of the "L" shape with aluminium foil. You will need to ensure there is a strip of 5mm to 1cm between the two pieces of aluminium foil, at the fold of the cardboard. Look at the provided photo for reference.

Step 9: Construct Your Gameboard

Now it's time to construct your gameboard! Hooray! Carefully place the obstacles and switches on your gameboard. Ensure there is approximately 5cm space between each obstacle, switch and the edge of the box. Keep in mind where you have cut your entry hold and where you place your obstacles and switches.

Once you are happy with your placement, glue the switches down, and glue or tape the obstacles down.

Step 10: Prepare for and Insert Makey Makey Cables

Beside each switch (except the arch switch), you will need to make two incisions approximately 5mm in diameter. Through each hold you will need to push an alligator cord from the bottom through to the top.

You will then attach an alligator cord to each side of the switch. One side now becomes your earth side, and one becomes your active side.

For the arch switch, you will need to do things slightly different. Push one alligator clip through to the gameboard, then wrap it around the arch and connect it to the aluminium foil near the top of the arch. To create the earth, strip some of the pipe-cleaner chenille away from the wire. Attach an alligator clip to the wire. This now becomes an Earth.

View all the pictures for this step as reference.

Step 11: Design Your Scratch Code

Now is the time to design your Scratch code for the game.

You will need to include:

A new variable - timer/countdown and set it to 30

A new variable - score

For each "what the …. key is pressed" block, you will need to associate it with the w, a, s, d, f and g keys, depending on how many switches you have included. Each of these blocks will need a variable score block attached to it. The harder the switch is to activate, the more points should be awarded.

Feel free to use the code in the provided image, or design your own.

Step 12: Set Up Your Makey Makey

If you have 5 switches, you can use the front side of the Makey Makey, and use the up, down, left, right and space keys. If you have more than 5 switches, you will need to use the back side of the Makey Makey and attach the cords as shown in the above picture, into the w, a, s, d, f and/or g sockets. These cords are then attached to the switches using the alligator cords.

Step 13: Make Your Game Ball

Using aluminium foil, create a ball approximately 5-8cm in diameter. This is now your game ball.

Step 14: Put Your Game Pieces in Place

Ensure all your Makey Makey ports are connected to an Earth alligator cord and to an activation cord. Ensure the activation cords are in the correct positions (keys) to match your Scratch code. You will need to attach the Makey Makey power cord at this point as well.

You will then place the Makey Makey carefully inside the box, with the gameboard above it, resting on the supports you have already attached. Now you're ready to play!