The new Code-a-Key Backpack! Bringing the Makey Makey and the BBC micro:bit together for more invention fun!

Interactive Room Challenge

Based on the Musical Room by TedXYouth@Austin, Hackidemia, and HS students. This lesson will guide you with step by step instructions for making your classroom or library into an interactive space designed by your students!


Lesson Objectives

  • Introduce or Reiterate the TMI Design process from Invent to Learn - Think Make Improve
  • Design and create an interactive space in the classroom or library
  • Engage students in innovation and creation
  • Entice students to create with technology rather than just consume it
  • Teach key mapping software Soundplant or coding keys with Scratch




Prepare Telephone Wires or use hook up wire and cut to length

Prepare telephone wires for later use.



Inspire Students

Inspire students with this video by Hackidemia and TedXYouth@Austin. Also show them Lamar Library's Musical Column, High Five Station, Musical Drawing, and Talking Book Drop.

1. Have students plan and design the interactive sections for your room. Brainstorm ideas and have students decide if they want the room to have musical aspects, sound effects, or a mixture of both.

2. Make sure you brainstorm ideas as a group so students can piggyback off one another's ideas. Also, a student might want to attempt an idea heard from another.

3. If using the key mapping software called Soundplant, have students view this tutorial to see how easy it is to connect student mp3s to specific keys on the computer.



Programming Keys

Choose keys and upload wav files or drag and drop wav files to desired keys.

Connect ports on Makey Makey to match keys programmed with Soundplant.

Wire up all the keys and plug in the USB cable, now you are ready to Makey Makey!


Mapping Keys in Scratch

 Alternatively, students can map keys by coding keys in Scratch. It's really easy. Just program the keys by recording sounds directly into Scratch or upload the sound you would like to use.

See this guide for help adding sounds to Scratch! (Link to pdf)



Connect Wires

Connect Wires to interactive spaces designed by students. 

And have students decide if they want to create a ground (Foil hand pictured below) or make a switch.



Room Transformation

Begin the interactive room transformation.

  1. Give students time to create sound effects with Soundplant or Scratch.
  2. Hook Makey Makey ports (the keys your students programmed) to the interactive objects in the room.
  3. Create signs if needed to prompt interaction.

(Note: You can use one Makey Makey for multiple projects in one area. My "Interactive Column", "High Five Station", and "Book Drop Switch" all run off of one Makey Makey.)



Share your transformation

Invite others to enjoy your room transformation! Then get some feedback.



Some Basics: Making a Switch and a High Five Station

How to create a switch

  • To make a switch, you just have to attach an earth (ground) to one piece of foil and your key with desired sound to another piece of foil. Then place something in between (paper, bubble wrap,etc) to act as an insulator and keep the two sides from completing the circuit.
  • In this example, a book presses the switch to trigger the sound from Soundplant:

In this example, a balloon triggers the switch. (The switch is an aluminum face that the student dubbed, “Your mean boss!”)

A high five station is created similarly to a switch. You just need one area attached to earth and another attached to the key with desired sound.

Then when students connect to each conductive pad by standing on it barefoot, or touching the pad, they become the conductor! When they high five, it will complete the circuit and the sound will play on your computer!




Make it interactive with Scratch

"How to make an interactive sound space with Scratch

  • Under "Events" drag a "When Space pressed" block to coding area
  • Under "Sound" drag a "Play Sound Meow" to the "When key pressed" block in the coding area
  • Hover over the megaphone and click on the microphone to record a new sound!
  • Record sound and change scripts according to which key should play each sound.

You can also use the new Makey Makey extension! (Pictures 3 and 4)


Add an interactive drawing

Graphite is conductive! So that means you can make a pencil drawing and connect Makey Makey to different sections of your drawing. (But remember that your drawings can't connect or you'll short your circuit.) 




Extensions (Optional)


Poetry Month

Program your room to be an immersive poetry experience for the month of April.

See lots of examples here

Dot Day

Have Elementary students create interactive dots for International Dot Day. Students can make dots and program Makey Makey to pencil drawings with a recording of "how students will make their mark" that plays when another student interacts with each dot.


Display books and create a switch on the book to do a book talk for students.

World Read Aloud Day

Have students read aloud their favorite sections of books and find a way to incorporate the recording and Makey Makey in their own way.


Celebrate diversity by displaying artifacts from different cultures for students to interact with.



Time Investment
1-2 hours
4- 12+


  • Makey Makey for each student or partner groups
  • Alligator Clips
  • Prepared Telephone wires or hook up wire from STEM pack
  • Tinfoil
  • Copper Tape
  • Playdoh
  • Anything conductive the students want to use for their interactive idea
  • Key mapping software Soundplant  (Use Vocaroo or Audacity to record sounds) or have students create sounds and map keys with Scratch


Download PDF copy of this Guide



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