448050911201448 STEAM Project: Communication Board with Makey Makey and Scratch | Polka Dots and Protons - Interactive Science Notebooks & More

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STEAM Project: Communication Board with Makey Makey and Scratch


STEAM Project: A true STEAM project that includes empathy and literature as well! This project has it ALL.

Project Background: What if you couldn't talk? How would you communicate? Our class read about Melody, a 5th grader, who had words in her head but she couldn't talk. In Sharon Draper's book Out of My Mind, Melody's world opened up when she received a computer programmed to say words and phrases. Melody named her Meditalker "Elvira" after her favorite song. Students made a Meditalker using a Makey Makey circuit board, Scratch programming, and recycled materials. Students programmed their Meditalker to play Melody's favorite music, ask for her favorite foods, and so much more! Students worked together while using the engineering and design process to rework their projects and improve them. 

This project is truly a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) project. It took five days to complete. The first two days we spent about 30 minutes each day on the project and the last three days, we spent an hour a day on it. 

STEAM Project Communication Board

Student Challenge: Create a communication board using a Makey Makey, Scratch, and recycled materials. Your machine needs to say at least four words or phrases. Word together and be creative.


  • Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper or a video about Stephen Hawking (Students create a communication board for someone who isn't able to talk on their own.) I read Out of My Mind to the class while they ate their snack each day. Ch. 31 is really sad so I just summarized it.
  • Cardboard, construction paper, egg cartons, paper towel tubes, cereal boxes, and other recycled boxes
  • Markers, crayons
  • Tape (all types if possible- duct tape, blue tape, Scotch tape), glue sticks and glue guns (I had two and they were each on a paper plate)
  • Makey Makey Kits (1 per group of 2-3 students)
  • Chromebook (1 per group)
  • Scratch (free online coding program)
  • Aluminum foil (I love buying these as sheets for the classroom. No prep!)
  • Metal washers (optional)
  • Paper to write the engineering plan down

Day 1: Have students watch the video on Makey Makey basics and let them play with the Makey Makeys with a Chromebook. Search Makey Makey bongos and cover your ears or have students put on headphones.

Students can search for Makey Makey Piano and Makey Makey Mario and PacMan games too.

Day 2: Watch PART of the introduction to Scratch video. It is too long for them to be engaged during the entire video. Create an Educator account and give the students the code to create their own accounts. Note: No names or identifying user names are allowed. Let students explore on Scratch and create a bit. 

Day 3: Time to plan and create. Explain the STEAM project. Have students individually brainstorm ideas and write their ideas down. Then put students in groups of 2-3 to discuss their ideas. Have the group make a plan.

This Engineering and Design Worksheet can be purchased on TPT.

Here is a page of Scratch tutorials. There is a tutorial on how to record sound.

Days 4, 5, and 6: Time to build. Remind students about being neat and only taking what you need. Review how to safely use a glue gun.

As students created their projects, I encouraged them to think of how they could improve it. We discussed the rubric and how design, attractiveness, and spelling matter. (Take can be used to cover misspelled words and write the correct spelling.)

Have students share and explain their projects on SeeSaw or Flipgrid

Free STEAM Communication Board Rubric
- you will be prompted to make a forced copy to Google drive.

STEAM project 5th grade

Are you looking for more Makey Makey PBL activities? My friend, Lynda Williams has tons of examples. Click Here to learn more.

This post has Amazon affiliate links:
Out of My Mind book by Sharon Draper
Aluminum foil sheets, a classroom must have
Makey Makey Kit (individual or class set of 12)

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