The BOSEbuild Sensors you can use to build your own instruments and other creative inventions

WHAT TO DO: Make your own music from an instrument of your own design with the three different sensors from the Sensor Kit.

WHAT TO NOTICE: Sensors respond to their environment which allow for you to control the sounds the speaker makes.

WHAT TO LEARN: Each Sensor measures different properties in the world. By experimenting with them, you can determine which ones inspire you to make a musical instrument of your own design. With your instrument and the others on your team, you can perform music for the rest of the class.

Now that the students have assembled the BOSEbuild speakers, you can introduce the Sensor Kit. In the Sensor Kit there are 3 different sensors that connect to the Control Panel and allow the students to experiment with different aspects of their environment. The Sensor Kit also includes 2 cables that connect the sensors to the Control Panel. Explain that sensors are similar to the senses in the body, but can sense other things that the body cannot, like magnetic fields and light exposure, and respond to these senses with a programmed response. WARNING: These sensors should be handled with care to ensure optimal performance.

Finished Speaker Cube
Completed BOSEbuild Speaker Cube from Activity 4

If moving on directly from the previous stage press the Yellow Button once more so that the speaker is not lit up.  If you have taken a break between Activities 4 and 5, push the Yellow Button on the Control Panel 5 times so that the speaker is not lit up.

Plug in the plug with 2 circles into the Magnetism Sensor

The first sensor that the students should experiment with is the Magnetism Sensor. Have the students connect the Magnetism Sensor using the single cable with the plugs on both ends. Both plugs are labeled with 2 circles.

TIP: Plugs go into ports with the matching number of circles.

One end of the cable connects to the Magnetism Sensor and the other end is inserted into the port labeled with 2 circles on the Control Panel, making sure that the circles on the plug face up. Be sure that both plugs are pushed in all the way, or the Magnetism Sensor will not work.

With the slider positioned all the way to the left, have the students play with the Magnetism Sensor, moving it towards and away from the Magnet. Notice that the color of the LEDs in the BOSEbuild Speaker changes. To hear the musical notes, press the Yellow Button. The note will play as long as the Yellow Button is pressed. Listen to the different notes that the speaker plays at different distances. Explain the magnetic field around the Magnet and how the force of the Magnet is stronger or weaker when the Magnetism Sensor is closer of farther away. Encourage the students to flip the Magnet over. This will make the scale play in the opposite direction as they move the sensor.  Ask them; “Why does this happen?” Explain that the notes are reversed because they flipped the North and South poles.

Musical settings controlled by position of the Yellow Slider

The students can now play with the different settings for the Magnetism Sensor. Moving the slider over causes the speaker to play different octaves and instruments. 

        1. Far left – first octave
        2. Two-fifths of the way – second change of octave
        3. Three-fifths of the way – third change of octave
        4. Four-fifths of the way – piano sample (single octave, does not change with sensor orientation)
        5. Far right – drums sample
Sensor Cable 1
Plug in the cable with the 3 circles into the port on the Control Panel with 3 circles

Next the students can experiment with the Light Sensor. To connect the Light Sensor, remove the single cable that was used for the Magnetism Sensor from the Control Panel. Replace it with the second cable with a total of 2 plugs and 1 port, all of which have 3 circles.  

Plug in the plug with 3 circles into the Light Sensor

The end of the cable with 1 plug (with 2 wires running to it) goes into the 3 circle port on the Control Panel. The 3 circles on the yellow plug need to be facing up.

The other end of the cord has 2 pieces, one that has a port and the other that has a plug, both with 3 circles. The plug can be inserted into the port on the Light Sensor, making sure that it is inserted all the way and the 3 circles are facing up. Have the students experiment with positioning objects or their hands above the Sensor and listen to the different notes that the speaker plays and observe the different colors that it displays. The Yellow Slider has the same settings as the Magnetism Sensor, so encourage the students to play with the different octaves and instruments.

Sensor Cables Wide
The additional port on the cable can be used to plug in the Coil to see its motion on the Magnet

Lastly, the students can experiment with the Gravity Sensor. Keeping the cable attached to the Control Panel, remove the Light Sensor and replace it with the Gravity Sensor. The Gravity Sensor changes the notes and colors according to its orientation. Just like the Magnetism Sensor, the note will only play if the Yellow Button is pressed, and holding the Yellow Button will cause the note to play as long as the button is pressed. Changing the orientation of the top of the Sensor (the side that says “Gravity”) will change which note is played. Have the students play around with making the top of the sensor face the floor, ceiling and four walls of the room to cover the different notes that can be played.

Encourage the students to use the any of the sensors to play songs or to make instruments.

As you can see, for each sensor, depending on the slider position, the sensor input will play various scales:
A Major, D Major, E Major, Piano (in A Major), Drums.
For the light sensor, you can just experiment and mark on a piece of paper or whatever the kids are creating, what position causes which note in the scale to play.
The magnet sensor has one additional element to the tone scales (not including the piano).
If you bring the North Pole of the magnet close to the sensor, it will play an ascending major scale
If you bring the South Pole of the magnet close to the sensor, it will play a descending major scale
And finally, the Gravity Sensor plays 6 different notes depending on the position of the gravity sensor.
The notes that get played are the first six notes of the scale that is selected. So for an A-Major scale, it plays A,B,C,D,E,F depending on orientation.


Check out some projects done by other classrooms in our Project Gallery and submit what your classroom creates for a chance to be featured!