Week 9 – Use a Makey Makey to compute rate with distance and time

This project is the first part of the final project that I will be proposing. As such, I will be testing the usability with my students. When appropriate I’ll include a video of the students suing working within the lesson.

Settling on a subject direction has been a struggle as the Makey has opened up a really useful tool. The lesson below is the direction I will be going. The next lesson will look at acceleration.


How does rate change as time changes? With Makey Makey and Scratch students will measure the change in rate over your desired distance and record the correct time as the metal ball passes through two maker special switches.

Students using the setup:


Lesson Objectives

Using distance formula, students will calculate the speed of travel (rate)

Measure slope and the effect it has on acceleration/rate.

Lesson Materials

  • Makey Makey
  • Alligator Clips
  • 925mm “V” shaped aluminum channel (non-anodized from Lowes or Home Depot works great)
  • Steel ball ≈25mm diameter
  • DIY Switches – copper foil tape, pipe cleaners (chenille stems) Masking tape, electrical tape
  • Scratch Game to use or remix
  • telephone wire or other long wire

Hooking up Makey Makey to Track

Use the Makey-Makey to effectively time your car’s speed- Students will use this Scratch game  (or create their own game) to record the amount of time the car travels over a given distance.

Set up rail for the metal ball according to the drawing below.

drt-fixture1  20151026_145707 20151026_152058

Construct the switches for the start input and stop input as shown in the drawing below. The pipe cleaners need to be taped to the track at a set distance for each set of trials.


Attach switches to Makey Makey as follows:

  • Start sensor – “S” input
  • End sensor – “E” key input
  • Earth – connect to the aluminum “V” rail (this acts as the common for both switches)

Logging Distance, Time, and Slope

Students will use this chart to log trials adjusting the height of the start of the rail. Students run a minimum of 10 trials at various heights and record the results.

Rate will be recorded in mm/msec.


  • Convert rate from mm per millisecond to mph.
  • Create a word problem based on this experiment.
  • Use a Hot Wheels type car to recreate the experiment. (will need to change the style of track extrusion.
  • Add friction to the track with strips of double stick tape or adhere sections of paper to the track.


Common Core

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.EE.B.5: Understand the connections between proportional relationships, lines, and linear equations.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSN.VM.A.3: Solve problems involving velocity and other quantities that can be represented by vectors.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.EE.B.5: Graph proportional relationships, interpreting the unit rate as the slope of the graph. Compare two different proportional relationships represented in different ways. For example, compare a distance-time graph to a distance-time equation to determine which of two moving objects has greater speed.

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.8.EE.C.7: Solve linear equations in one variable.

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