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Sensing Our World Worksheets

Worksheets to explore sensors & interfaces using the Scratch Sensor Board (Picoboard)

Margaret Low

Created by Margaret Low
last edited May 27 2013 by Margaret Low

Picoboards are a great way of exploring physical interfaces, sensors and control. A lot of interesting applications can be built to explore physical interfaces using the board. In addition to the built in sensors, you can connect four more sensors to the board.

To give some ideas for home made sensors and interfaces that can be created - we developed a set of worksheets. Building and calibrating sensors gives many opportunities to link to different aspects of science. One worksheet also gives some guidance on passive (bought) sensors that are likely to work with the picoboard - the key is to look at the sensor resistance.

The worksheets show how to make simple sensors using plastic bottles, pins, graphite pencils, bottle tops, etc. They also show how to make a range of sample projects - a tiltometer, a bottle top drum kit, a lunchbox alarm, a thermometer, a CD case touchpad.

You can download the worksheets here:

Once you get the hang of how straight forward it is, you’ll find yourself dreaming up other applications - its a bit addictive.

We built a game controller using the tiltometer, tilting the bottle left or right.

John built a guitar using bare conductive paint. It is sensitive to the amount of moisture in the air - so needs frequent re-tuning.

Phil did his own interpretation of the Nintendo Power Glove, using a woolly glove, conductive thread and a flex sensor.

Note: If you find you get delays in response to an event (normally on older computers and netbooks), you can enable scratch turbo mode in Scratch using the top menu: Edit -> Set Single Stepping… -> Turbo Speed

These resources were developed by myself, Phil How, John Rendall and Marie Low in 2011-12.

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