16 STEM in the Gym Activities with Makey Makey

STEM in the Gym

What is Makey Makey and why do I use it? Makey Makey, an invention kit everyone can use, is an electronic invention tool and toy that allows students to connect everyday objects to computer programs. Makey Makey is a printed circuit board that has a microcontroller running Arduino, which allows it to interface between your computer (via USB) and physical objects (via alligator clips). (Makey Makey, 2018). Students program the movements they want associated with which keys into a computer, and clip the objects to the corresponding holes on the board. When they push on the aluminum foil wrapped poly spot, the computer thinks they’re pressing a key and plays a sound, advances a counter, or moves a computer image. Makey Makey is a great tool that can be used for STEM in the gym.

In the Spring or 2018, my school received a grant for 15 sets of Makey Makey boards. We had a 4th grade classroom teacher and a 5th grade classroom teacher try them out and see what their classes could create. During the summer STEM camp, I volunteered to incorporate the Makey Makey boards into my STEM in the Gym sessions. The objective was to give these campers, in grades K-5, the basics of the Makey Makey boards. Once the school year begins, I know our teachers will introduce the Makey Makey boards to the rest of the school. My campers will already understand how the Makey Makey boards work and be able to assist their classroom teachers. In this article I will provide the different station ideas we developed to use in our STEM in the Gym sessions, along with the equipment needed, setup, Makey Makey board setup, expectations, guidelines, website utilization, and possible modifications.

1. Plank Walk Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, Broken Hoop Arc, 2 Large Cones, 6’L Wire, 3 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, Zip Ties, and Laptop.

Setup: Build the arc with the hoop and the two cones. Zip tie the wire around the top of the arc. Under the arc, place 2 aluminum tape lines 12” apart. Place 2 floor tape lines down 12” behind the aluminum tape.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to one end of the wire and alligator clip the other end of the wire to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Walk with hands on a 1, 2, 3, 4 count. On 1, 2 the student puts his/her hands on the aluminum tape completing the circuit and adding to the counter. On 3, 4 the studente puts his/her hands back on the floor tape. Count to 20 then switch. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120…

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://tallycounterstore.com/online-counter or https://counter.onlineclock.net/

2. Walking Push-Up Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 2 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Place the floor tape strips where you want the student to start their hands. Put two aluminum tape strips on the step where you want the students to walk up using their Walking Push-Up.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Student begins in a push-up position with their hands on the floor tape. Student uses a Walking Push-Up to move toward the aluminum tape, then down back to the original position on the floor tape. Each step up will “Complete the Circuit” and count a step on the computer. Count to 20 then switch. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120…

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://tallycounterstore.com/online-counter or https://counter.onlineclock.net/

3. Wide Grip Push-Up Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 2 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Place the floor tape strips where you want the students hands to begin. Run two aluminum tape strips on the floor as wide as you want the students hands to go when they perform their Wide Grip Push-Up. I added smaller extra strips on each side of the aluminum tape to make sure the students make contact.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Student begins in a push-up position with their hands on the floor tape. Student widens his/her hands out to the aluminum tape, then walk his/her hands back to the original position on the floor tape. Each Wide Grip Push-up will “Complete the Circuit” and activate the counter on the computer. Count to 20 then switch. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120…

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://tallycounterstore.com/online-counter or https://counter.onlineclock.net/

4. Modified Curl-Up Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, Broken Hoop Arc, 2 Large Cones, 6’L wire, 3 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, Zip Ties, Tumbling Mat, and Laptop.

Setup: Build the arc with the hoop and the two cones. Zip tie the wire around the top of the arc. Under the arc, lay down the tumbling mat and place 2 lines of aluminum tape with 12” between them. Place 2 floor tape lines down 4” behind the aluminum tape.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to one end of the wire and alligator clip the other end of the wire to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Lie down in a Modified Curl-Up position. Back straight, knees bent, arms straight to side resting on the tumbling mat, finger tips touching the edge of the floor tape with the aluminum tape 4” farther down the mat. The student need to keep his/her fingers on the mat completing the modified curl-up. Slide fingers towards the aluminum tape. When the student’s fingers contact the aluminum tape, he/she will “Complete the Circuit” and the counter will add a count to the website counter.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 10. Go slow, maintain a controlled, steady pace. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://tallycounterstore.com/online-counter or https://counter.onlineclock.net/

5. Scooter Laps Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, Broken Hoop Arc, 2 Large Cones, 6’L Wire, 3 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, Zip Ties, 20 Cones, 1 Scooter per Student, and Laptop.

Setup: Build the arc with the hoop and the two cones. Zip tie the wire around the top of the arc. Under the arc put down 2 aluminum tape lines with 12” apart between. Put 2 floor tape lines down 12” behind. Make an oval cone track with start/finish under the arc.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to one end of the wire and alligator clip the other end of the wire to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Scoot around the cone track. Every time a student crosses the Start/Finish line, the student drags his/her hands over the two sides of aluminum tape to “Complete the Circuit” and activate the drum sound.

Guidelines: Everyone has his/her own scooter and stays outside the cones. It is not a race, it is just for the fun of moving and making the drum sound after every lap.

Website Utilizing: https://makeymakey.com/bongos/

6. Basketball “Around the World” Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Basketball Hoop, Nerf 8” dia Ball, Aluminum Tape, 3 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, 20’L Wire (Red/White), Zip Ties, and Laptop.

Setup: Use floor tape to make 8 X’s in a progressing arc. Wrap a nerf soccer ball with aluminum tape.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Wrap aluminum foil around 3 diamonds on the lower neck of the basketball net. Do the same to the net on the opposite side of the court. Run the 20’L of wire from the net to the rim, to the back of the backboard, to the wall, and then down the wall to the computer. Zip tie at necessary points. Strip the ends of the wires. Connect one end with aluminum tape to one side of the aluminum tape on the net, connect the other end to the EARTH alligator clip. Do the same with the other wire from the other side of the net with the aluminum tape. Alligator clip this to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Begin at the closest “X”. Each person gets 1 shot. If the student makes it, his/her team moves to the next “X” in the arc, and the student gets another shot. If the student misses, it’s the next person’s turn. This is a team Around the World game. Everyone shoots from the same successful “X” until the team gets all the way around the arc

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after each missed shot. Work as a team to make a basket at every “X”. Cheer on teammates.

Website Utilizing: School Mascot Sound Effect. We’re the Round Hill Bears. I used a Roaring Bear sound effect.

7. Racket Skills Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, Tennis Racket, Duct Tape, 15’L Double Wire, Glue, 2 Aluminum Pie Pans, Small Pocket Bubble Wrap, and Laptop.

Setup: Trace the inside of the racket head on cardboard and cut out 2 copies. Cut out the bottom flat section of the aluminm pie pans and tape them in the middle of both cardboard cutouts with aluminum tape. Strip 1” off the ends of the wires. Split one end of the wire 8” apart. Use the aluminum tape to secure the white wire to one aluminum pan, and use the aluminum tape to secure the black wire to the other aluminum pan. Glue 2” strips of bubble wrap around the perimeter of both cardboard cutouts and put the racket sandwich together in the following order: cardboard, pie pan, wire, bubble wrap, bubble wrap, wire, pie pan, cardboard. Place this on the tennis racket head and duct tape the edges to the racket. Use athletic tape to tape the wire down the handle of the racket. Test the racket and draw a bullseye on the sweet spot. 

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip the end of one wire to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the end of the other wire to the CLICK section.

Expectations: Using underhand volley striking, contact the bullseye with the ball, and hit the ball against the wall. Hittin the bullseye activates the Cheer Sound Effect.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 10 hits. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: Crowd Cheering Sound Effect.

8. Human Piano Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 7 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Set of Stairs, and Laptop.

Setup: Place a 3’L piece of aluminum tape on each of the steps (we used 6 steps) and a 6’L piece of single wire.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to the up arrow, another step to the down arrow, another step to the left arrow, another step right arrow, another step SPACE, another step CLICK. Strip the ends of the wire. Alligator clip on end to the EARTH section. We used aluminum tape to secure the other end to a metal cup stacking cup. 

Expectations: With the hand closest to the computer hold the EARTH Metal Cup, now the student plays the piano with his/her feet.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20 steps. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://makeymakey.com/piano/

9. Musical Oranges & Water Bowls Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 2 Bowls of Water, 2 Oranges, 6 Alligator Clips in Different Colors (3 sets of each color clipped together to make them longer), 2 Beach Towels, and Laptop.

Setup: Use aluminum tape to tape a 12” box lined with aluminum tape on the floor where the water bowl musician will sit. Run a separate 4’L section of aluminum tape off the edge of the “Taped Box” and pinch the end. Make another “Taped Box” where the orange musician will sit. Lay out a beach towel with 2 half-filled bowls of water. Fold a beach towel and lay it out and put 2 oranges on it.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one color, 3-wire set to the UP and other end draped in the water. Alligator clip another 3-wire set to the DOWN and drape in the other water. Alligator clip a 3-wire set to the EARTH and other end to the pinched end of the “Taped Box” for the Water Musician. Alligator clip a 3-wire set to the LEFT and stick the other end in the orange’s rind. Alligator clip a 3-wire set to the RIGHT and stick the other end in the other orange’s rind. Finally. Alligator clip a 3-wire set to the EARTH and other end to the pinched end of the “Taped Box” for the Orange Musician.

Expectations: Walking with hands on a 1, 2, 3, 4 count. On 1, 2 the students puts his/her hands on the aluminum tape completing the circuit and adding to the counter. On 3, 4 the student puts his/her hands back on the floor tape. Count to 20 then switch. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120…

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20. Encourage and Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://makeymakey.com/piano/

10. Straddle Jump Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 2 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, Floor Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Place floor tape strips where you want the student to stand. Run two aluminum tape strips as wide as you want the students to Straddle Jump. I added smaller extra strips on each side of the aluminum tape to make sure the students make contact.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: The student begins standing on the floor tape. He/she Straddle Jumps out to the aluminum tape, the jumps back to the original position on the floor tape. Each Straddle Jump will “Complete the Circuit” and count a jump on the computer. Count to 20 then switch. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120…

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20. Encourage & Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://tallycounterstore.com/online-counter or https://counter.onlineclock.net/

Modifications: Use stomp pads with feet or make the poly spot pads on a desk to use with hands. Directions for making stomp pads given at the end of this blog.

11. Step Up Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 2 Alligator Clips in different colors, Floor Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Place floor tape strips where you want the student to stand. Put two aluminum tape strips on the step where you want the students to Step Up.

Makey Makey Board Setup: Alligator clip one end of the aluminum tape to the EARTH section. Alligator clip the other end of the aluminum tape to the CLICK section.

Expectations: The student begins standing on the floor tape. He/she steps up to the aluminum tape, then steps down back to the original position on the floor tape. Each Step Up will “Complete the Circuit” and count a step on the computer. Count to 20 then switch. 20, 40, 60, 80, 100, 120…

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 20. Encourage & Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://tallycounterstore.com/online-counter or https://counter.onlineclock.net/

Modifications: Use stomp pads with feet or make the poly spot pads on a desk to use with hands. Directions for making stomp pads given at the end of this blog.

12. Jumping Arrows Challenge

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 6’ wire, 6 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, 4 Poly Spots, Duct Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Build 4 stomp pads. Place the poly spot, run 3 strips of 12”L aluminum tape over the middle section of the poly spot. Overlap each strip so you end up with a 6”L metal landing spot on the poly spot. Run another strip of aluminum tape from that stomp pad to the end of the table. Continue making a total of 4 of these stop pads in a diamond pattern with an empty 12” block in the center for the student to stand.

Makey Makey Board Setup: From the poly spot representing the UP ARROW, Alligator clip the end of the aluminum tape to the UP ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Use a different color clip to secure the DOWN ARROW poly spot to the DOWN ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Do the same with the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW. Strip the ends of the 6’L wire. Alligator clip one end to the EARTH and the other end of the wire we connect to a metal cup stack cup with aluminum tape. 

Expectations: Try to successfully maneuver through the tomb by jumping on the arrows. The software is sensitive. Be sure the student steps on the stomp pads only 1 time for each arrow he/she jumps on.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after 10 Jumped Arrows. Encourage & Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: http://www.coolmath-games.com/0-jumpingarrows

Modifications: Use stomp pads with feet or make the poly spot pads on a desk to use with hands. Directions for making stomp pads given at the end of the blog.

13. Frogger

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 6’L wire, 6 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, 4 Poly Spots, Duct Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Build 4 stomp pads. Place the poly spot, run 3 strips of 12”L aluminum tape over the middle section of the poly spot. Overlap each strip so you end up with a 6”L metal landing spot on the poly spot. Run another strip of aluminum tape from that stomp pad to the end of the table. Continue making a total of 4 of these stop pads in a diamond pattern with an empty 12” block in the center for the student to stand.

Makey Makey Board Setup: From the poly spot representing the UP ARROW, Alligator clip the end of the aluminum tape to the UP ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Use a different color clip to secure the DOWN ARROW poly spot to the DOWN ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Do the same with the LEFT ARROW & RIGHT ARROW. Strip the ends of the 6’L wire. Alligator clip one end to the EARTH and connect the other end of the wire to a metal cup stack cup with aluminum tape. 

Expectations: Try to successfully maneuver the frog to the top resting Lilly pads. The software is sensitive. Be sure the students steps on the stomp pads only 1 time for each time he/she wants the frog to jump.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after each reset of the game. Encourage & Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://www.webpacman.com/frogger.php

Modifications: Use stomp pads with feet or make the poly spot pads on a desk to be used by hands. Directions for making stomp psds given at the end of the blog.

14. Iron Man vs Captain America

Equipment Needed: 2 sets of the following: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 6’L Wire, 6 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, 4 Poly Spots, and Duct Tape. Also requires a Laptop.

Setup: Build 4 stomp pads. Place the poly spot, run 3 strips of 12”L aluminum tape over the middle section of the poly spot. Overlap each strip so you end up with a 6”L metal landing spot on the poly spot. Run another strip of aluminum tape from that stomp pad to the end of the table. Continue making a total of 4 of these stomp pads in a diamond pattern with an empty 12” block in the center for the student to stand. Then build another set beside it.

Makey Makey Board Setup: From the poly spot representing the UP ARROW, Alligator clip the end of the aluminum tape to the UP ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Use a different color clip to clip the DOWN ARROW poly spot to the DOWN ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Do the same with the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW. Strip the ends of the 6’L wire. Alligator clip one end to the EARTH and connect the other end of the wire to a metal cup stack cup with aluminum tape. Do the same thing again and plug it in a separate USB to the computer.

Expectations: Captain America moves left and right, press up to shoot. Iron Man moves left and right press down to shoot.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after each reset of the game. Encourage & Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://scratch.mit.edu/projects/105317605/

Modifications: Use stomp pads with feet or make the poly spot pads on a desk to use with hands. Directions for making stomp pads given at the end of the blog.

15. Pac Man

Equipment Needed: Makey Makey Kit, Aluminum Tape, 6’L Wire, 6 Alligator Clips in Different Colors, 4 Poly Spots, Duct Tape, and Laptop.

Setup: Build 4 stomp pads. Place the poly spot, run 3 strips of 12”L aluminum tape over the middle section of the poly spot. Overlap each strip so you end up with a 6”L metal landing spot on the poly spot. Run another strip of aluminum tape from that stomp pad to the end of the table. Continue making a total of 4 of these stop pads in a diamond pattern with an empty 12” block in the center for the student to stand.

Makey Makey Board Setup: From the poly spot representing the UP ARROW, Alligator clip the end of the aluminum tape to the UP ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Use a different color clip to secure the DOWN ARROW poly spot to the DOWN ARROW on the Makey Makey board. Do the same with the LEFT ARROW and RIGHT ARROW. Strip the ends of the 6’L wire. Alligator clip one end to the EARTH and connect the other end of the wire to a Metal Cup Stack Cup with Aluminum tape. 

Expectations: Try to successfully maneuver the Pac Man to avoid the ghosts and eat all the pills.

Guidelines: Take turns with a new first person every time. Switch after each reset of the game. Encourage & Cheer for everyone.

Website Utilizing: https://www.webpacman.com/

Modifications: Use stomp pads with feet or make the poly spot pads on a desk with hands. Directions for making stomp pads given at the end.

16. Directions for Making Your Own Stomp Pads

Equipment Needed: Foam Floor Mat, Aluminum Tape, Hot Glue Gun, Electrical Wire, Electrical Tape, Wire Strippers, Scissors, and Alligator Clips.

Setup: Cut your foam floor mat to the desired size. Mine are 10”L x8”W. Strip the ends of two 3’L pieces of electrical wire. Choose your bottom pad. Line the center section of the floor mat with aluminum tape. Cut a 4”L piece of extra foam mat and aluminum tape that to the center of the foam mat. Aluminum tape the exposed end of copper wire to the edge of the foam bump. Choose your top pad. Line the center section of the top mat with aluminum tape. Aluminum tape the exposed end of a new copper wire on the previous aluminum tape. Build a foam edge trim around the perimeter of the bottom and top pieces. Save space for the wire. Use a hot glue gun to secure the trim to the top and bottom pieces. Let dry. Use a hot glue gun to secure the top and bottom pieces together. Electrical tape the two wires together. Connect an alligator clip to the other ends of the two wires and electrical tape those together. That makes 1 stop pad. Make 3 more to complete your set.

Website Utilized: https://youtu.be/awrfC9n56YA by Kevin Buchanan

I was able to make 3 sets of red, blue, yellow, & green following this YouTube video, or I would create the original foot touch pads but I would make them on a desk and have the students touch the poly spots with their hands to control the Makey Makey movements.

Makey Makey is an engaging, interactive use of technology that allows students to really invent. Taking Makey Makey and using it for STEM in the gym will really blow the minds of your students. Hopefully your imagination has begun to modify these activities to meet the needs of your student population.

If you have any questions or would like to chat about Elementary Physical Education. You can reach me at Eric.Turrill@lcps.org Round Hill Elementary; Round Hill, VA Twitter: @RHEPE1 Website: RHEPE.com   YouTube Channel: RHEPE

About the Presenter: Eric Turrill has been teaching Elementary Physical Education since 1996, and currently teaches at Round Hill Elementary in Round Hill, Virginia. He takes great pride in how his physical education program is continuously evolving. Eric believes that smiling is the international language, “Laughter is the Best Medicine, and “If you had fun, you won”. You can connect with him on his website www.RHEPE.com, Twitter @RHEPE1, or YouTube: RHEPE.

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