SPY vs SPY Obstacle Course!

SPY vs SPY Obstacle Course

The design challenge was for opposing teams to make obstacle courses with detection alarms and secret messages readable by UV led’s.

Donated by littleBits & hosted by the Fresh Air Fund!

Duration: 2 hours

Middle School (ages 11-13)
High School (ages 14-17)


littleBits Basics
Makerspace Workshops

fan (1)
slide dimmer (1)
roller switch (1)
branch (1)
dc motor (1)
buzzer (1)
long led (1)
light sensor (1)
bargraph (1)
button (1)
dimmer (1)
power (1)
pulse (1)
vibration motor (1)
pressure sensor (1)
servo (1)
sound trigger (1)
bright led (1)
battery + cable (1)
wire (1)


STEP 1 : Demonstration & Exploration

SPY vs SPY Obstacle Course1

First there was a ~15 minute demonstration of the bits and then ~15 minutes more for open ended exploration of circuits.

STEP 2 : Design Challenge

Campers investigated two off the shelf detection circuits with alarms – a motion alarm by SpyGear and a window/door magnetic reed switch alarm. I asked campers to redesign or improve these alarms however they liked using littleBits modules.

STEP 3 : Iteration

SPY vs SPY Obstacle Course2

Campers independently explored their own ideas and shared their findings with one another…

Motion Trigger – limit range of detection in a busy room:
only scotch tape? very small scraps of paper? walls of 2″x2″ paper? popsicle stick towers? construction paper towers?

Inverter placement:
before or after output? before or after input? on only one channel of a fork?

Pressure sensor:
how many cans of soup? how many books? can anything smaller be detected?

UV led – see what glows:
markers? highlighters? secret messages?

STEP 4 : Obstacle Courses!

SPY vs SPY Obstacle Course3

Camp team names were “Flower” and “Sun”. Each team constructed an obstacle course for the other team using chairs and blankets. Inside the obstacle course were secret messages – some were illuminated when a camp spy was detected by a sensor “START OVER”, and some messages with secret numbers and letters were only illuminated by the spy’s portable secret message decoder.

There were many buzzers, and vibration motors with bells that sounded when a spy was detected. Team members took turns attempting to traverse the other team’s course undetected.