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Point the wands at bright light, dimmer light, and darkness to make music.

Wandering Wands

Stephanie attached light sensors to the ends of glitter wands. Each wand was mapped to a different instrument, so you heard two instruments changing pitch as you moved the wands. She designed it as a way for museum staff to interact with visitors. - Oskar
stuff you need
  • Cricket (or make a version with the RCX)
  • Two light sensors
  • MIDI music board and speakers
  • About 3 feet of 22-gauge solid (non-stranded) wire (e.g., Radio Shack hook-up wire)
  • Wands (chopsticks, straws, paintbrushes, or pencils, etc..)
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire cutter/stripper
  • Materials to decorate your wands (glitter, ribbon, pipe cleaners, etc..)

To make the wandering wands, you'll connect the Cricket to two light sensors and a MIDI board.

Start by setting up your Cricket, MIDI board, and speakers. (Your setup will look different from this one.)

Next, attach the light sensors to your wand.

If the cord on your light sensor is too short to reach from your Cricket to the end of your wand, you'll need to lengthen it.

To lengthen the sensor wire, cut the existing sensor cord in half.

Then, carefully cut along the center of the wire in about 1" from the ends to separate the wires inside.

Use the wire stripper to strip off the plastic coating off the ends of each wire, exposing about 1/2" (2 cm) of wire.

Next, cut two pieces of 22-guage, non-stranded wire long enough to reach from your cricket to the wands. Strip the plastic coating off the ends of each of the wires, exposing about 1/2 inch (2 cm) of wire.

Use these wires to connect the two parts of the sensor cord. To connect the wires, hold and twist them together (see photo).

Secure the connection with electrical tape. You can wrap the wires you added with more electical tape to keep them neat and hold them tight.
Many things will work for the wands: chopsticks, long-handled paintbrushes, dowels, found sticks.


Attach the light sensors to the ends of the rods, using electical tape or hot melt glue to hold the sensor in place. Secure the wires to the wands with electrical tape.

Add decoration, if you wish. (The sensor in this picture is hidden in the center of the flower.)

The cricket tells the MIDI board what notes to play depending upon the information from the light sensors. Here's a sample program to try. And here's a larger image of the program.

Or, you can try Eric's "monkifier" program, inspired by jazz musician Thelonius Monk. Here's an image of Eric's program.

Try out your wandering wands! As you move the wands around, you expose the light sensors on the ends of the wands to different levels (amounts) of light.

What do you notice when you move the wand to a place where it is in lots of light? To somewhere where it gets only a little light? How can you create a very dark place for the wand?

What else
Read about how Margaret made Musical Gloves
Read about how to make another unusual instrument: an ice theremin

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