This STEM project teaches kids about circuits and electricity. Because there are tiny parts, I recommend it for ages 10 and older. This coincides nicely with 5th grade Core Curriculum circuits as well.
There are a few hurdles for doing this project. To make it easier for my readers to do this science project, I’m giving away some kits of the harder to procure parts. See the Rafflecopter below to win.
This Paper Circuit STEM project is also in Make: Start Making! A Guide to Engaging Young People in Maker Activities by Danielle Martin and Alisha Panjwani. I’m also giving away a copy of this book. To win this book, please leave a comment.
Step 1: The Materials
Some of the materials you’ll probably have around the house: clear tape, scissors, paper/card stock/construction paper (card stock is best), and binder clip (nice to have but not necessary).
I bought these items for the project:
skinny copper tape (25mm or 1/4 inche 3/8 inch)
surface mount LED lights
You don’t need that many: red,yellow, green, blue, and white.
Step 2: Setting Up the Paper Circuits
I found this project in a science vacation week coordinated by MIT in Cambridge. We weren’t able to make the event, so I thought I’d recreate it at home. Paper Circuits from Exploratorium had a workshop but also had the information online.
The first thing to do is set up a SIMPLE CIRCUIT like the one on the far left. Notice:
- Plus and Minus where the battery goes.
- The fold is how you connect the circuit.
- There’s that gap with the red rectangle where the LED light goes. You’ll want to make the gap small like in the drawing.
See how small the LED light is? It needs to fit in the gap, crosswise.
My son and I started by cutting out a card and folding where the battery goes. We put circle for the battery and made sure they line up.
Next, we connected the copper tape to make a rectangle. The copper tape is self sticking so it’s easy to apply.
We forgot to to cut the gap for the LED. This was our first fail.
Next, mark the path of the circuit with + and – signs. You’ll want to keep that straight when you put the battery in place.
Next put the battery in place, matching the + and – sides of the battery to the card. You might want to clip with the binder clip the light in place while you get the LED light working. You’ll need to remove the LED light from the black plastic casing. Using a pair of tweezers can help.
The trickiest part is the get the LED light in place. You have to look closely or use a magnifying glass, but there is a green line to mark the – (negative) side of the light. You also have to fiddle with the light until it lights up. When it works, tape it in place with the clear tape.
Once you get the hang of the LED light, this project is easy. You can now use this concept to decorate a Pop Up Card.
Step 3: Make a Light Up Pop Up Card
In the second card, I made a Pop Up card.
GIVEAWAY: Win 1 of 3 Paper Circuit STEM Science Kits
I’m giving away three Paper Circuit STEM science kits. Each kit has all the hard-to-find components: LED lights, coin Lithium battery, skinny copper tape, and card stock. Fill out the Rafflecopter below to win.
GIVEAWAY 2! Make: Start Making! A Guide to Engaging Young People in Maker Activities
To win a copy of this book, please leave a comment below.
Paper Circuit Cubes
To examine any book more closely at Amazon, please click on image of book.
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Need more STEM ideas? Try my two boards:
Also this post covers Physics of Electricity and Circuits.
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
15 thoughts on “DIY STEM Paper Circuits: Light Up Cards & GIVEAWAYS”
I love this activity and I’m sure my son will, too! It reminds me of the flashlight he had to build in 6th grade. This would’ve been easier!
Btw, on the Rafflecopter, where it says to follow you on Pinterest, it says PragmaticNom. I assume that you don’t have an exclusively recipebased Pinterest page I don’t know about!
Oops, I need to fix that on Rafflecopter. By the way, you won. I sent you the Maker book as well because I’m hoping that your son will enjoy some of the other projects.
He absolutely will!! Thanks, Mia!
My son will love this! Thank you!
Thanks so much for entering Krista!
This is an awesome blog. Thank you for such cool ideas.
You are so nice to say that Kierra! Thank you so much!
I do science projects with my students. I love to find new ideas on Pinterest and blogs.
I’m searching for more science projects to do with my son that don’t require a ton of special items to purchase though. Let me know if you have a few that you recommend. I think we will try the hot/cold liquid density next.
As always, I love your posts — and your giveaways! 🙂
Thanks for all you do!
Thanks so much Niki! I really appreciate your kind words!
Thanks for your great blog! Where did you get your supplies for this project with the copper wire and the LED light?
I had to order them and I put the links for that in my blog post. Hopefully, you saw that? If you click on an image, it will take you to Amazon too. But the LED lights were from somewhere else.
Just came across your blog-through Pinterest-and loving it. Starting Maker Spaces this coming fall and your blog is going to help me.
Thanks so much for coming by! It’s so nice to meet you! I think the Maker Spaces are so wonderful!!! I hope you try the Paper Circuits. These particular LED lights are little tricky to get to line up so that they light up, but once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. You can make a lot of different types of cards using this concept of circuits too!