The WHY for This Maker Project
Holiday gratitude cards are a great way to have students reflect on cherished learning memories, and influential people in their lives. Why not give back to this special individuals, and thank them with a creative gratitude holiday card, and learn about simple circuits at the same time.
Learning Goals & Big Picture Overview
Students will learn and discover how circuitry basics work through crafting with LEDs, copper tape, and coin cell batteries. They will also have the opportunity to build on a starter paper circuits project, experiment with more advanced techniques like creating a DIY switch or making a parallel circuit with multiple lights. The students final simple circuit holiday gratitude cards will be given as thank you holiday gifts to a family member, friend, senior citizen in a retirement home, or armed forces veteran.
- Card stock and colored construction paper
- Holiday templates (optional)
- 3V coin cell batteries
- Copper foil tape or aluminum foil
- LED light bulbs
- Brass brads and binder clips (optional)
- Clear Scotch tape and glue sticks
- Pencils, markers and colored pencils
- Assortment of craft supplies/holiday stickers
Students will be working in "dynamic duo" pairs or "transformative trio" student groups to create an LED holiday gratitude card.
Each student will have a very important team role/job to contribute to the success of the final project. Student roles/job tasks/badges could include the following for accountability:
Graphic Designer, LED Circuitry Technician, Troubleshooting Engineer.
Explorations & Introductions to LED Circuitry
1. Have two students explore and discover how to make a simple circuit that lights up an LED on a piece of paper first. To begin, give one LED light and a battery to the student groups. Encourage them to explore the look and feel of these materials and share what they notice. Then, ask them to try to make the LED light up.
2. Notice that the battery has a symbol on each side. One side has a plus (+) sign, which stands for the positive terminal. The other side has a minus (–) sign, which stands for the negative terminal. *The LED also has positive and negative terminals. The longer leg is positive and the shorter one is negative.
3. To make the LED light up, connect the negative side of the battery to the negative leg of the LED and the positive side of the battery to the positive leg of the LED.
4. Once all students are able to make their LED light up, introduce this basic layout diagram that they can use to make their circuit on paper through the "Simple Circuit with Switch" picture diagram on the left. You can also hand out printed copies from templates, and make cards this way too, or you can draw the diagram, or project the image on the whiteboard with a projector on a board- for everyone to refer to when they are making their cards.
Step-by-Step Directions Activity
1. Have students design and color the front cover of their holiday gratitude cards, keeping in mind the placement of the inside LED circuitry layout.
2. Add copper foil tape (or use aluminum with clear Scotch tape) on the back side of the card- Take a piece of cardstock paper and on it, place copper tape so it follows the lines in the diagram. Simple tip-->> To make turns, tape until you reach the corner where you want to turn. Then, fold the tape to turn the corner.
2. Attach the LED - Take the LED and spread the legs so that they are sticking out to each side. Place the LED on top of the copper tape, so the legs touch the tape. Then secure them in place with clear tape.
3. Add the battery - Place the battery negative (–) side down, where the circle with the (–) sign is. It should touch the copper tape. Next, fold over the corner of the paper so that the tape going to the positive (+) circle touches the battery. Your light should turn on.
4. Complete the circuit - Use a binder clip to hold the circuit in place. If the light doesn’t turn on, check that the copper tape is running to both sides of the battery and the LED with no breaks, and that the two tape lines don’t touch each other.
- How was the experience of making things light-up?
- What was the favorite material that you used today to design your circuit?
- What are some things that you want to change or add to your paper circuit?
- Can you list three things that you want to make using the techniques you learned today?