Make an interactive display to share some details about yourself using Scratch and paper switches. This guide is meant to be adaptable to a number of purposes. Research projects, game controls, data collection, etc.
Makey Makey Classic, file folder, crayons, markers, colored pencils, copper foil tape, aluminum foil, masking tape or clear tape
Step 1: Scratch Project
First, create a Scratch project that tells people something about yourself. You will need to use the "when pressed" block to activiate different scripts. Use a new "when pressed" event for each thing you want to share about yourself. You can use "say" blocks, or record your voice into the project using the recording tools. In the next steps you will make a set of 4 switches, so be sure to use 4 key press blocks.
The project linked below uses broadcasts to control the program because the other sprites hide when one of them is speaking.
The Scratch program can be as simple or complex as is appropriate for your students. All that is needed is a sprite that says or does something different when different keys are pressed. The more experienced your students are, the more commands they will be able to incorporate into their work.
Step 2: Paper Switches Part 1
Lay the file folder flat on the table.
Neatly fold the outside edges to the crease in the center of the folder. This is called a "shutter fold".
Use a ruler to measure and mark the center of each "shutter".
Draw a line acrossthe middle of both shutters.
Cut along the line you have drawn so you have 2 flaps on each side of the folder. These will be the switches. When you press down on one of the flaps, it will trigger one of the scripts in your Scratch program.
If you want to, you can tape a narrow piece of scrap paper to the back of the top edge of the folder to make it easier to add the Makey Makey clips when you are finished.
I have used a regular file folder here, but any reasonably thick paper (card stock, construction paper, etc.) will suffice. It is important to use a heavy paper so that the 4 shutters/flaps lift slightly when not pressed.
Step 3: Paper Switches Part 2
Use a pencil to lightly draw the lines for the "earth" wires. These should go along the inside edges because the 2 switches on each side will share the "earth" wire. Notice that there is a branch off the main wire that goes to the middle of the switch.
Use copper tape the cover the lines for the "earth" wires.
Now use your pencil to draw the lines that will be connected to the key pads on the Makey Makey. Leave a space of about half inch between the end of the "earth" wire and the end of the key wire. Be sure that the wires do not cross over or touch each other or you will get key presses you do not expect.
Cover these lines with copper tape also.
I have used copper foil tape, but thin strips of heavy duty aluminum foil will work just as well. This can be taped in place, just be sure to leave the ends uncovered so that the top half of the switch can make the connection.
Students will probably need help with the copper tape if they have not used it before. Especially with the long pieces, they should only peel the paper back of a bit at a time or the tape will curl up on itself and be impossible to unstick.
Step 4: Paper Switches Part 3
Cut 4 aluminum foil squares that are each about 3 inches wide. These will be the top part of the switch and will bridge the gap between the "earth" wire and the key wire behind each flap.
Carefully center the square over the gap between the "earth" wire and the key wire.
Tape the foil square to the flap. Be sure to the keep the foil flat against the flap or it might create a key press without being pressed.
Repeat this process until each of the 4 flaps has a foil square taped to it.
This is a good time to attach the Makey Makey to make sure that each switch works. If you find that pressing one of the flaps presses more than one key, your foil square is touching two key wires at once. You can fix that by carefully covering the key wire that is getting connected accidentally with tape.
Neatness is key with adding the topp part of the switch. If the foil is crumpled it may lead to unexpected key presses. Also, the square needs to be centered over the gap so that when the flap is pressed down the gap is bridged.
If the copper wires are too close together, the foil square my contact both and trigger 2 key presses. Covering the wire that is connecting inadvertently with masking tape will solve this. Having students collaborate to debug this issue (rather than just telling them the solution) is an excellent physical computing teachable moment.
Step 5: FInishing Touches
Once you have checked that each switch works properly, label each connection point so you will remember which pads to attach to each part of your display. The two outside contacts are the "earth", the 4 in the middle are arrows keys or space.
Decorate the outside of the flaps however you would like. Be creative!
Connect your display switches to the Makey Makey. Plug the Makey Makey into your Scratch project and share your work.
When students are decorating the outside of the flaps, they need to be carefull that they do not accidentally damage the inside of the switch with vigorous erasing or by pressing down too hard with the pencils of crayons.
This project could also be adapted as a biography research project where students make a Scratch project about a famous person and each flap is labeled with and triggers information about different aspects of that person's life.
The switches could be adapted to any type of project requiring 4 inputs. Game controller, survey, memory game, etc.