Physics Car Track With Makey Makey

Introduction: Physics Car Track With Makey Makey

This guide is to discover how the Makey Makey can be used as a timing gate for the classic physics cart on a ramp activity.


Makey Makey Classic, track (or cardboard), alligator clips, conductive tape, car, long wire

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Step 1: Ramp

Find a ramp material. I used cardboard - maker's best friend. (this will allow multiple sizes of cars on the ramp) Could also use a car race track.

Educator Tip:

Want to try to have long single pieces so that students don't have to spend time making the ramp.

Step 2: Add Timing Steps

This step is to add the strips across the ramp and connect the alligator clips to them. Using multiple strips allows for a start and multiple distances and a stop option - could use the front side and the back side connectors for more timing function. Measure out the distance each strip is from the first strip - this will be used in your program and also in the analysis of your data.

Educator Tip:

If you suggest mounting the Makey Makey in the middle of the ramp you only need a few longer clips - using multiple alligator clips.

Step 3: Connect Them All Together

Clip the other ends of the alligator clips to the Makey Makey - might need to tape or clip in place on the edge.

In this example, I have a timing connection at start (at the green tape) and 10 cm, 30 cm, 50 cm and 70 cm.

Step 4: Ground on the Car

Adding a long wire from the ground on the Makey Makey to the car and touching the ramp for each of the circuits to be complete.

Educator Tip:

With multiple options for cars - mounting will be a little challenge for the students to discover the best way. This will be a trial and error for the students.

Step 5: Programming

Now to program the data collection. Since the distance is step up from the beginning that can be coded into the project before completion - into a list. The time is based on a timer and key pressed - also collected in a list. Below is an example code - feely free to remix for your projects.

Makey Makey Physics Cart

Educator Tip:

A familiarity with lists might help.

Step 6: Analysis

Using the data - Distance and Time - students can now graph this and use it to look at velocity and acceleration of the car on the ramp.

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