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A Tinkering Workshop: Making Interactive Landscapes

Create models of real or imaginary landscapes and connect them to Scratch programs.
This project has several facets: storytelling, physical modeling (going from a sketch to a handmade landscape), and Scratch programming. The idea is to imagine a real or fictitious landscape as the setting for a simple story about what an explorer might see. An explorer (in the form of a game piece avatar) moves through the created landscape according to rules established by the maker. Along the way the explorer can focus in on details if they stop on interactive spaces. These spaces trigger a Scratch program with animation, artwork, sounds or even mini games.

The project is adaptable for classes in history, geography and language arts. It allows participants to experiment with interaction design and to build confidence as makers of objects that have both physical and digital components.


A video about creative process

A pdf on workshop and construction ideas

Additional photos

Elliot Schultz
We love this idea Mike! We decided to make our own version at the MSTE office at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Here is our project! We think this is a great way to engage students in every subject area! Thank you for your contributions to education!

Check out our project here:
Michelle Choi
Hi Mike,

I love this project idea, especially how adaptable it could be for various disciplines and subjects. Beautiful video! Thanks for sharing all the resource, links, and photos.