If we learned anything from Frankenstein, it's that electricity can be dangerous, but exciting! Learn to harness electricity using Makey Makey and Scratch to make this electrifyingly terrifying game.
Scrap wood, theme decorations
Copper wire, or any other conductive material
Makey Makey, Computer
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Step 1: Building the Game Board
Decorate your game board using paint, stickers or any other materials. For the wood, deck boards have a nice wide surface; mine is about 14 inches long. Cut a length of wire about three times the length of the game board and plan your shape. Use pliers and round surfaces, like the side of a can, to shape your wire. Consider how difficult you want your game to be. (We found out that our loop-de-loop was tough! Next time, I might make Frankenstein's hairline.) After shaping your wire, plan the two holes where your wire will attach to your board. Use a drill bit a little smaller than your wire's gauge and pre-drill your holes. Push your wire in for a snug fit and then hot glue in place.
Step 2: Make the Handle
To play this game, you'll grasp a handle with a ring at the end made of more copper wire. The goal is to try and guide the ring of copper wire from one end of the long wire attached to the game board to the other. If you slip and touch the wire with the ring, you'll make an electrical connection (circuit) that will trigger an effect on the computer. You could play an animation, sound effect, or make an LED turn on. True to our theme, we are going to cue Frankenstein's terrible groans showing that you woke him up!
Cut a six inch piece of wire, then cut a two foot length of thin wiring, like the recycled ethernet cabling that I am using. Strip the ends of the cable, then solder, tape or use copper tape to wrap the thin wiring to the thicker copper wire. Wrap the whole thing in heat shrink tubing (fancy) or painter's tape (plain).
Step 3: Adding the Makey Makey
Get ready to add the makey makey into the circuit of your game. Take one of the alligator clips and attach it to one end of the game wire. Take another alligator clip and attach it to the stripped end of the wire connected to the game handle (or just use the handle's wire and connect it directly to the "ground" of the makey makey). Choose a keyboard key to connect the game board alligator clip to and connect. Choose the Ground/Earth and connect the handle alligator clip to it. Now you are almost ready to play!
Step 4: Start Coding and Play!
What do you want your circuit to do? Of course, you can skip the computer altogether and add a battery and LED or piezo buzzer directly to your soon to be circuit, but for this project, we wanted to add the flexibility of Scratch https://scratch.mit.edu/.
Create a Scratch account and new project. We are going to use some of the sound effects in Scratch, so we started with the Sounds tab on the top of a new project. We can use any of the sound effects pre-made in Scratch, but my kids had been practicing their Frankenstein impressions all day and were ready to go. We created a New Sound, and recorded our voices.
After recording our audio masterpieces, we created some code so that every time the Up arrow was pressed it would cue the audio recording, then wait a few seconds. After the code was created, we plugged the computer in and had fun playing our game.
Remember, you can adjust the difficulty of your game based on the size of the circle on your handle and the complexity of your game board design. Enjoy!