Pixel Art Science Tutorial: Hidden Picture, Obvious Fun

Recently I was scrolling through Facebook when a post from a popular teacher group caught my eye…Colorful, grid style artwork that appears as students type in correct answers! I was immediately captivated with this new fad known as Pixel Art. As I scrolled through pages of beautiful education activities, I couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment that very few science options were being represented. Luckily, I know my way around graphics, and I am semi-pro with Google Sheets, so I decided to make some myself…but could I figure out how to make my own pixel art activities?

pixel art activity science education teacher
How many representations of the human body can you find in this science pixel art?

How to Create Your Own Pixel Art Activities

While it is true I no longer teach science, I AM teaching middle school technology this year, and occasionally get to sub for our 7th and 8th grade science teacher. My brain started whirring with a glorious marriage of technology, science and art to help ease the monotony of this new, virtual, distance learning world.

I created my first pixel art image in Google Sheets in about 20 minutes, inspired by the Human Body Systems unit our students are working on.Easy enough…but now I was at a loss for how to program the activity using conditional formatting. LUCKILY, I did not have to reinvent the wheel. Gin Peterson from EZ EdTech made a wonderful pixel art tutorial on how to use a simple formula with conditional formatting to make parts of the pixel art appear as students choose or type correct answers into the spreadsheet.

Eric Curts from Control Alt Achieve also has a great written tutorial for making Pixel Art activities with Google Sheets.

Using a Drop Down Menu Instead of Numeric Answers

This tutorial was super easy to follow and very informative. Since I wanted them to identify functions and organs from different body systems though, I needed to have a drop down list of the body systems to eliminate frustrations with typos and misspellings. I mean, seriously…Integumentary isn’t really the easiest word to spell.

To achieve this, I used the “Data Validation” function. Simply select the column where you want your answer choices to appear, go to the “Data” menu, then choose “Data validation”.

pixel art activities science education teacher

Choose “List of items” from the window that pops up, and type your answers in separated by a comma! Save your work, and go marvel at the wonder of your fancy drop down menu of choices.

data validation drop down many google sheets education teacher

Make note that when putting in your conditional formatting custom formula, you will need to put words in quotation marks for this to work properly.

conditional formatting pixel art google sheets custom formula education teacher

Science Pixel Art Master Achievement Unlocked

I’m not going to lie. After completing this first activity, I feel like a TOTAL boss, and you can do it too! With a little patience, you will be making your own pixel art worksheets to impress your students. Distance learning has been a big energy drain learning curve for us all, and having a couple of “WOW” activities for students can really uplift your spirits.

And if you don’t want to make your own? I got you! I have completed activities for Human Body Systems and Chemical Formulas, with more to come in the not so distant future.

pixel art science worksheet google chemical formulas

If I haven’t mentioned it before, I really do love Science + Art!!!

Stay safe and teach on.

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