HyperStudio - A Great Way to Start Learning about the Maker Movement, and Creating Interactive Maker Projects

See this at the ISTE Conference 2015!  

Poster session: Tuesday, June 30, 10:30 am–12:30 pm

Many student projects in elementary, junior high and high school grades can be greatly enhanced with the addition of interactive electronics. For example the volcano project shown here has an LED light that illuminates when the student is talking about that part of the project in a video.

Additionally, sensors can be placed in the model, which when then touched by a person looking at the model, that then triggers actions such as a spoken explanation of that part of the model.

Here is a video of such a volcano model that both lights up when the student is talking about that part of the model, and which also initiates actions in the computer, such as opening a web-page with more information, when the physical model is touched.

Makerspace - the Future of the School Library?

The maker movement is all about people taking control of every kind of technology, tools and materials to make whatever they can imagine. It is a culture infused with curiosity, exploration, collaboration, not being afraid to make mistakes, and most of all the excitement of “doing it yourself”! (“DIY”)

In a time where one can find anything instantly on Google, what will be the future of the library?  One answer that is emerging is the idea of the library as a makerspace. Libraries have always supported a culture of self-directed exploration and learning, and having access to the resources not available in the home or even an individual classroom.

This is a perfect fit for the already-happening future of libraries as makerspaces.

Just do a Google search on library + makerspace, or click here for a story of one teacher’s experience with the library as a makerspace.  You can read more on Edutopia here.

What will this bring to my classroom?

  1. -learn how real artists and engineers light up their displays and make things move

  2. -motivate and engage kids with real (physical) “maker movement” projects

  3. -interactive models

  4. -interactive posters

- electronic books

What is the Arduino?

The Arduino is a great inexpensive (about $20) device that can control lights, and motors, and which can monitor sensors such as those for light, temperature, pressure and even motion.

In addition the Arduino itself communicates with the physical projects and devices via wires, and uses LEDs (lights), motors and sensors to make everything happen (see the links to the components above).

Arduinos range in cost depending on whether it is just the board that you are buying ($9-$25), and further to that, the various components for a project ($5-$100+ for LEDs, motors, wires, etc.)

Click here for information about where to buy the Arduino and additional components.

Click here for a brief tutorial on how the wires and LEDs are set up for a model.

How do I make it work?

Here is a suggested order for the activities to create an interactive maker project.

  1. 1.Create the physical model.

This will depend on the grade level and subject matter, but in general, this will probably be a model of something made out of a combination of paper, wood, plastic and other materials.

When making the model, keep in mind the parts that you will want to particularly talk about in the digital (computer) report that will accompany the model. Some parts will have LED lights that will come on as you talk about that part of the model.  Other parts of your model will have touch-sensors (actually, photocells) that will make something happen in your digital report when someone touches that part of your model.

The videos above should give you a good idea of the kinds of projects that are possible, and how the digital and physical projects work together.

Main idea: Where do you want your lights and touch-sensors to go?

  1. 2.Add the LEDs and touch sensors (photocells) to your model.

For the LED lights, make holes that are 3/16” (5mm) in diameter.  For the photocells, make two holes with a large needle or other pointed object that are 1/8” (3mm) apart.  If you don’t have a good way of making the small holes, you can also use the end of a pocket screwdriver that has a 1/8” (3mm) tip to make a slotted hole that the wires (called “leads”) of the photocell can go through.

You may also find that the pocket screwdriver can be used to make the hole for the LED as well. It will look better if you make that hole slowly, working from the front, and first pressing an “x” pattern into the paper of the project, and then carefully making it into more of a hole.  Small manicure scissors work well to trim off the paper that is pushed through at the back of the hole, before inserting the LED from the back.

The head of the LED is pushed through the hole from the back to put it in position.  The wire leads of the photocell are pushed through from the front of the model through the holes for the wire leads.

A very small amount of white glue placed over the back of the LED after it has been inserted in the hole will help it stay in place, and also make the wire leads more stable.

You may also wish to use a toothpick to put a small amount of white glue behind the photocell on the front side of the model to help hold it in place.

Cut off the extra part of the wire leads off so that about 1/2” (12mm) remains. 

Use the connecting wires that have sockets on both ends, and plug them into the LED and photocell wire leads.

Bend the wire leads of the LEDs and photocells over at a right angle (90 degrees). Placing tape over the back can also help hold things in position there.

Use the connecting wires that have a sockets on one end, and a pin on the other, and plug the socket end into the LED and photocell wire leads.

Bend the wire leads of the LEDs and photocells over at a right angle (90 degrees).

The other end of the connecting wire that has the pin can go into your breadboard where you have the current-limiting resistors for the LEDs, and the “voltage divider” and connection to the Analog inputs, for the photocells.

You can learn more about setting that up here.

  1. 3.Create the buttons in your HyperStudio Digital Project

On the computer, create your digital presentation of your project using HyperStudio 5, or the “Forever Free” Trial Version of HyperStudio

In your HyperStudio project, you will have two kinds of buttons.  One group will be buttons that when clicked on, cause LEDs on the model to light up.  Generally, you will also have that same button turn off all of the other LEDs, so that only one light is on at a time.  Remember that they don’t have to actually be buttons.  Any object in HyperStudio can have actions, so your “buttons” can be anything on the screen, whether it be an image, text, a movie or actual “buttons”, and can be directed to light up one or more LEDs on the model.

The other group of buttons are those that get activated, as though they were clicked on, when the touch sensors (the photocells) are touched.

Generally, those will provide some sort of explanation of that part of the model. It could be an audio recording, a video, opening a web-page, or anything else that HyperStudio can do.  Touching a photocell will be just as though the person clicked on a button in your project.

HyperStudio will be set up to continuously watch the photocell sensors, and when one of them is touched, the light that the sensor receives is blocked, and that sends a signal to HyperStudio via the Arduino.  At that moment then, you can play a movie, a sound, an animation, open a web-page, or even turn on other LEDs on the model.  Anything the computer can do can be activated by interacting with the model.

HyperStudio does not require any written programming, but with it you are learning the logic of programming. That’s different than learning the syntax of coding).

This can be a big advantage when introducing students to the concepts of computer-controlled sensors and actions, without having to get into the intricacies of a programming language.

HyperStudio as the introduction to Arduino (and the logic of programming)

HyperStudio can be used to control the Arduino board without requiring any written programming.  (By the way, learning the logic of programming is different than learning the syntax of coding).

This can be a big advantage when introducing students to the concepts of computer-controlled sensors and actions, without having to get into the intricacies of a programming language.

HyperStudio is widely used for student-created projects, and the “Forever Free” Trial Version is more than adequate to use for student project such as the volcano shown above.  (The “Forever Free” version is limited to 4-card projects, but doesn’t ever expire.  See the HyperStudio Test Drive page for more information.)

Controlling something with Arduino

Here is a quick description of how you can control a light, a motor, a servo, or pretty much anything else directly from HyperStudio using the Arduino Setup MBA (“More Button Action”) function.

First, on the Arduino board, connect an LED between GND and pin 13, with the longer lead of the LED in pin 13.

Next, for a button or any other object in HyperStudio, go to the Actions tab in the Inspector, and click on “More Button Actions”.

Choose “Arduino Setup” from the list of MBAs:


For pin 13, choose “Output” from the pop-up menu, and “High”. In digital electronics, “high” and “low” are equivalent to “on” and “off”.

That’s it!  When you click on the button or other object, your LED will light up!

Making things happen on the computer with Arduino inputs

With the Arduino Watcher MBA, any exact input, or combination of inputs, to the Arduino board will cause a button in your project to do whatever sounds, movies, connections to other cards, documents or web-pages, etc. have been set up for that button.

To watch for an action, go to “About this Card” for the first card in your stack, and choose “Arriving at Card”.  In the Actions tab, choose “Arduino Watcher”.


For the interactive models, you watch one of the Analog Inputs for a value that indicates that the photocell has been touched:

Arduino Watcher can watch all the pins for all the buttons all the time, and activates just the right button when a given photocell is touched.

If you have already have HyperStudio, or have downloaded the “Forever Free” Trial Version, you can see a demonstration of HyperStudio interacting with the Arduino in this Arduino Test Project.  There is also a more advanced set of demos here, in “HyperStudio + ARDX”.

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HyperStudio-Based Arduino Simulator/Tutorial

Below are a series of web-based tutorials about the Arduino that you can use even if you don’t have an Arduino.  They were created with HyperStudio, and can even be saved and run locally on an iPad or Android mobile device, but that’s not required to use them.

This is a great way to learn about both HyperStudio (how to author projects) and the interactive lights and sensors of the Arduino.

Here in Part 1, it leads you through the steps to control an LED with HyperStudio and the Arduino:


Part 2 continues with a tutorial on the Arduino Watcher function, which lets your project respond to touching a physical project with voice, movies, opening web-pages and more:


Part 3 puts it all together with a paper maché model of a volcano that has LEDs and photocell sensors that respond to a touch:


The second portion Part 3 shows how to create “the eruption” by turning on all the LEDs in a sequence.


Try these out!  It’s a great way to learn about both HyperStudio, the Arduino, and get an insight into the “maker movement”!

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