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Exploring Digital Systems
with Makey Makey

Years F-2

Students are introduced to Ozoblockly and basic programming concepts. Using Ozoblockly, students program Ozobot to follow a path and travel through a maze that they have created.

This lesson idea was created by Steven Payne.



  • Computers,
  • Makey Makey kits
  • Conductive and nonconductive materials (e.g. paper, alfoil, foam, cardboard, fruit)
  • Pencils (for recording)
  • Camera to record experiment (optional)

Prior Student Learning

Students may have done some prior work that involves identifying input and output devices, for example that a mouse and keyboard are input devices and that a screen or speakers are output devices, but this is not necessary.

Learning hook

Before the lesson, the teacher sets up the Makey Makey (with Playdough connected, or something conductive, such as fruit, as well as a section of two conductive and nonconductive materials). The Makey Makey is connected to one of the musical apps listed on the Makey Makey site.

If it is possible, the teacher projects the Makey Makey Scratch program on a screen or Interactive Whiteboard, otherwise, having the computer with Makey Makey in a visible location, such as the front of the room will be fine.

The teacher asks students to sit in a circle on the floor. The teacher asks the students to describe what they see. (Identifying: Computer, cables, objects, Makey Makey keypad, Scratch program on the screen, etc.)

The teacher invites students to come up and try touching and experiencing the Makey Makey, making sounds with a selection of a few conductive materials.

The teacher asks questions:

  • What do you notice?
  • What is happening? What do they see and hear?
  • How do you think it is working?
  • What happens on the screen when we push the controller?

The goal is to have students realise that the software, the hardware and the peripheral device (Makey Makey keyboard) are all connected, and that the circuit must be complete for it to work.

Teachers can ask students how many of them have used a controller before and what types of controllers they have used for what purposes (e.g. playing games, television), relating this back to the Makey keypad and the program on the screen.

Learning map and outcomes

  • Students conduct research to identify how different elements both natural and man made forces impact on the life cycle of a tomato
  • Students write a plan and compose a script based on their research.
  • Students connect the Makey Makey to create a working circuit with conductive points on the poster.
  • Students work together to record their scripts in to provide additional support information to their research.
  • Students work in teams to design their visual program using a scratch.
  • Students work in teams to ensure their system works when the user touches the split pins on the poster.
  • Students can debug their hardware and software to create a working system.

Learning input

The teacher now introduces non-conductive materials to the centre of the classroom.

They continue to experiment with using the Makey Makey system, asking:

  • What do you notice?
  • Why do some objects work, and others do not?

Modelling their responses, the teacher sorts the objects into “conductive” and “nonconductive”, as the class identify if they work or not.

Learning construction

Students now work on doing their own sorting activity in pairs or small groups.

The teacher can have the Makey Makeys already pre-prepared on computers for the students to use, or work with them to connect their Makey Makey, step-by-step (depending on age).

Students can either select 6 objects from the middle of the class that have been curated by the teacher, or find their own objects to test with the Makey Makey from their schoolyard or classroom.

Students work together to test and sort their objects into two groups: “conductive” and “nonconductive”/ “yes” and “no”.

Recording: Students take a photo of their final sorted objects.

Students are to draw their digital system (Makey Makey) and label parts of the system (either by writing, or gluing labels provided by the teacher, depending on literacy level).

Students work together to write down (or with teacher support) what they notice (observe) about their experiment - either how the system worked or the use of the objects.

Note: Marc Faulder noticed that the class also sorted objects into a third pile, depending on where you put the clip.

Learning demo

The groups come back to the centre of their class with their recordings and share what they found out about their objects.

The teacher physically groups some of their collective observations into the centre of the room.

The teacher invites them to share what they can notice about each group.

Learning reflection

Students reflect on their experiences in working scientifically with their peer or team.

Learning Extension/ Future Lesson

Students, based on what they have observed, select 2-3 objects and invent a musical instrument.

Students draw their instrument.

In this lesson, teachers are looking to see whether students have included all parts of the digital system in their design, and whether the objects they have selected are appropriate.