LED Creations

Spruce up artwork by adding LEDs to drawings and paper sculptures. In this activity, children learn about conductivity, current flow, simple circuit design, and mechanical switches.

Materials Required

  • Coin cell battery
  • 1 or more LEDs
  • ¼” copper tape
  • Clear tape
  • Card stock paper
  • small binder clips
  • construction paper (optional)
  • markers (optional)
  • scissors (optional)
  • craft tape (optional)

Instructions

1. Use this template to get started: (Download template here.)

led creation template jpeg

2. Fold in one corner of the template paper. Trace a coin battery just outside the fold – this is where the on/off switch goes.

3. Peel the sticky backing off the conductive copper tape and place it in the rectangle. Be sure to start the copper tape at the battery. The sticky side of the tape does not conduct electricity, so bend the tape (instead of cutting it) to create curves and corners. Leave a small gap where the LED will go.

4. Add the LED. Bend out LED leads and tape each lead on top of one side of the copper tape circuit. Make sure that the + side of your LED is connected to the + on the battery, and the – tab of the LED to the – on the battery.

5. Add the battery and hold it in place with a binder clip. If the LED isn’t lighting up, try flipping the battery over to make sure the + and – are aligned with the LED.

Additional Tips

Try these add-on activities:

  • Decorate the creation and make it stand out!
  • Add a third dimension! Add a circuit to an origami creation, paper airplane, a card, or an ornament.

Links to Creativity

This activity directly addresses what is required for something to be creative—that it is both useful and novel. Putting together these paper circuits is a lot like programming. When children are testing to see why the circuit isn’t working, they are debugging or problem finding, which are essential for both coding and creativity.

Supporting research includes:

Getzels, J. W. (1975). Problem finding and the inventiveness of solutions. The Journal of Creative Behavior9(1), 12-18.

Kafai, Y. B., & Peppler, K. A. (2011). Youth, technology, and DIY developing participatory competencies in creative media production. Review of Research in Education35(1), 89-119.

Runco, M. A., & Jaeger, G. J. (2012). The standard definition of creativity. Creativity Research Journal24(1), 92-96.

Contributor

This activity was contributed by the Center for Childhood Creativity at the Bay Area Discovery Museum. ©2015 Bay Area Discovery Museum For more information and resources see CenterForChildhoodCreativity.org.