How to be a #QuizMaster!

On Wednesday we held our Maker Faire in conjunction with MSU Libraries. A great time was had by all! Laurie Fernandez and I had created an activity we called “Are You Smarter Than Our Quiz Machine?”. It consisted of Four quiz boards, like these:


We needed more than one board, not just for access for more customers, but also so that we could switch up the question-answer pairs. While we undertook this activity for a maker faire, you can use these in your classroom, too. These can be excellent for content review sheets, or other games. Depending on your grade level, you can have your students do everything from making the boards to developing the quiz sheets and swapping them with each other. For an overview of how to build the same quiz boards, watch this photo gallery of Laurie at work:

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The boards work by forming a circuit when you touch one alligator clip to the brad next to the question, and the other alligator clip to the brad next to the right answer. Each board has five separated circuits. Here is how you make them:

You will need for each board:

Firm but light board, slightly larger than a plastic page pocket

Plastic page pockets

Brass brads (fasteners)

Colored electrical tape

Conductive tape

Two alligator clips plus leads

LED light

Button batterie


Your own question/answer pairs sheet, so you know that the answer to question 1 is answer 4, for example.

You should be able to get all supplies at Michael’s. Alternatively, you may also get the tape, batteries, and LEDs at a hardware store.

How to make the basic boards:

1. Fit the plastic page pocket to the board, cut to size if necessary.

2. Secure the pocket to the board with colored electrical tape on three sides (use a different color for each board). The pocket should open at the top of the board.

3. Measure the sides of the boards, and calculate where to place the brads so that there are five down each vertical side, evenly spaced. (This is a great math activity for students!)

4. Make a hole where each brad should go, push the brad through and fasten it on the back of the board.

Tape a plastic sheet to the board, and punch in two rows of five metal brads for the terminals
Tape a plastic sheet to the board, and punch in two rows of five metal brads for the terminals

5. Check your question/answer pairs sheet. Tape the conductive tape on the back of the board to connect the first question’s brad to the correct answer’s brad.

6. Cover the conductive tape with electrical tape. This will isolate the circuit, so the board works properly.

7. Repeat 5 & 6 for the other four question/answer pairs.

Insulate each circuit with electrical tape
Insulate each circuit with electrical tape

Connecting the light and battery:

8. Place the LED on the top of the board and tape down the leads with conductive tape.

9. Place the positive side of the battery face down on the conductive tape coming from the longer wire from the LED.

10. Strip the ends of the alligator clips’ leads. Attach one to the top (the negative side) of the battery using electrical tape.

11. Attach the other alligator clip’s lead to the conductive tape attached to the other wire from the LED.

12. Tape the lead, battery and LED unit securely to the back of the board with electrical tape.

The circuit is wired: question clip-battery-light-answer clip
The circuit is wired: question clip-battery-light-answer clip


To check if you have wired your board correctly, touch the question clip to one question terminal, then touch the answer clip to there correct answer terminal. This should complete one of the five circuits, and the light will come on!

You should get the same result for all five question-answer pairs. If you connect the question to the incorrect answer, the light should not come on.

Pro Tips:

Test all the connections, and all question-answer pairs.

Foam board tended to bend, and the battery pulled away from its contacts. Use something still light but more rigid.

IF your connections do pull away, just press the covering tape back into place.

Scratch all the brads and the alligator clips with steel wool. These metal parts need to make a good connection for the circuits to work. They can easily be affected by grease, wax, and oxidation.

Make some visual quiz sheets for younger customers.

Make as many different quiz sheets as you have time, or have your students make them.

Allow plenty of time for testing. Correctly working circuits are key to this activity. Look for false positives, which may indicate that two of your circuits are touching and need to be insulated.

Here’s hoping your #QuizMaster activity is as successful as ours!