Wednesday, October 1, 2014

STEM in the Classroom: Circuits

STEM and the Next Generation Science Standards are designed to foster a love as well as knowledge about mathematics and science. This project brings circuits directly to students' notebooks.

One of my newest loves and discoveries is aluminum tape.  Where has this been all of my life?  I purchased it for a little under $8 from my local hardware store.  It is found in the plumbing and/or tubing section of the store.  One roll of aluminum tape is enough to last for an entire school year.  I also purchased these round batteries at the hardware store.

The LED lights can be purchased at an electronics store.

STEP 1:  To create a paper circuit, have students draw a pattern on paper.  On one side I drew the picture of a battery.  On the other side I drew a picture of an LED light.

STEP 2:  Cut the aluminum tape into thirds.  I used only a third of the width of tape.  If you are unable to find aluminum tape, aluminum will work just fine.  (A larger width decreases the flow of energy in the circuit.)  

STEP 3:  Place the aluminum on top of your circuit lines in the notebook.

Special Notes During This Step:
1.Do not let both sides of the aluminum strips connect.  This can cause a short in the battery.  The edges on my example come close, but they do not touch.

2.When you are attaching the aluminum foil to the paper, do not cut it.  Instead, fold the corner and continue to apply the aluminum strip.  Cutting the strips reduces the flow of energy.

STEP 4:  (Warning, this part gets tricky.  If your circuit does not work, switch the sides of the circuit that both metal prongs touch. And/or switch the overlapping of the aluminum in the circuit.  One piece of aluminum should touch the top battery.  The second piece of aluminum should touch the bottom battery.)

STEP 4 Continued...
Stack the batteries.  Place the batteries over the battery drawing, and place the LED light over the LED drawing. 

STEP 5:  You are all finished.  I had fold extra pieces of aluminum tape to connect each side of the battery to the circuit.  The sticky tape interfered with the conduction.  (I made sure that when I attached this extra aluminum, both sides of the circuit DID NOT connect as I was attaching the aluminum to the top of the batteries.  

You might have to press the batteries down to hold it in place.  

Remove the batteries and LED light when you are finished so that they can be used in another project.

I love this because students learn about circuits and conductivity from doing and not just reading about it in a book.  

Visit Literacy and Math Ideas for additional STEM in the classroom activities.

*****If you would like a sticker circuit kit that can be used with multiple students in small groups Click Here To Access A Kit********


  1. Where did you buy the bulbs?

  2. I would love to show this idea in a course I am teaching on Maker Education, with full credit to you of course. Can you contact me via Twitter @robinwb to discuss?

  3. Could you please tell me what type of batteries you used for this project? Thanks. By the way, I think this is a great project!

    Robin Grant

  4. Could you please tell me what type of batteries you used for this project? Thanks. By the way, I think this is a great project!

    Robin Grant