BIRTH OF THE IDEA
When lights, fans, TVs go off due to a cut in electricity, we give a reason to our children like ‘Light is gone and will come shortly’ or ‘there is no current’ etc.. After few repetitions of these reasons, children themselves start speaking such statements when electric/electronic devices stop working. We then realize that children actually don’t understand what actually an electric current is as they can’t see and feel it. So children even ask ‘Papa/Mom, what is current or what is electricity?’. Me and my colleagues Atul and Rashmi have lately been thinking of creating a fun project for our kids which they can assemble easily from household stuff and items locally available, understand how an electric current is generated and check the conductivity of current themselves. They can even experiment with conductive and non-conductive materials and get an understanding of the behaviour of various materials against the current at an early age. Also, once they get hold of the basic circuitry needed to generate current, they can have fun and create their own circuits like
- Parallel LED circuit
- Series LED circuit
- Circuits having resistors and switch
- Use multiple LEDs in a circuit
- Create circuits using electric paint and graphite used in pencils
This project is very conceptual and gives children of age group 10-12 years a flexibility to try out different ways to generate the current and what can be done using that current. We tried to buy very less items and use stuff from house and made a working electric circuit out of it. The 2 most important pieces to check the conductivity of current in a simplest and safe way is a battery and a small LED lamp as shown in pictures.
“We recommend experimenting with LEDs, as they are inexpensive, cooler and last longer than incandescent bulbs.”
Step 1: Materials and Tools
The materials and tools listed below can be easily found at home. At the most, you may to buy few items from local shops at a very cheap price.
1.Coin Cell/Battery - These are available in watches, toys, calculators and other small electronic devices. If not available at home, you may have to buy them at very nominal price from an electronic hardware shop
2.Scissors - Mostly available at home.
3.Two Sided Tape – This tape has adhesive on both sides. It can be bought at very less price from local electrical/electronic shops.
4.Cardboard- You can find these in form of cartons and boxes at home.
5.LED – These can be found in toys, electronic devices. If not available at home, you may have to buy them at very nominal price from an electronic hardware shop
6.Resistors(Optional) – A resistor is a two terminal electrical component which acts to reduce current flow, and, at the same time, acts to lower voltage levels within circuits. It can be found in electronic devices at home. If not available at home, you may have to buy it at very nominal price from an electronic hardware shop
7.Adhesives/Glues – These are mostly available at home.
8.Aluminum Foil - These foils are also available at home and are used for wrapping food to keep it warm. Can be bought at very less price from a local grocery shop.
9.Zip Locks – These zipped pouches are also available at home and are used for storing food or small household items and keep them airtight. They can be bought at very less price from a local grocery shop.
10.Decoration Material – Color Chart paper, pencils, ruler, tape etc. can be used for decoration and labeling purposes.
Step 2: STEP1: Giving Shape to the Circuit
- Cut the Cardboard into a square shape and wrap it with a color paper. You can choose a dark color as a background.
- Cut the 2-sided tape and make rectangular pieces. Stick them in a C-shape over the cardboard. Similarly make another C-shaped set and stick it over the cardboard facing exact opposite to the other set keeping a gap of 0.5-1 cm in between the 2 sets (Figure 1).
To create a switch, you will have to keep the length of one of the C-leg strips longer than its counterpart as shown in Figure 2.
Superimpose the Aluminum strips onto the C-shaped tape strips (Figure 3). As the foil is very thin, you can cut the foil border using a knife, cutter or scale/ruler. Peel off the plastic layer from the tape (Figure 4) and paste the conductive strips on to the tape strips. Cut the foil a little lengthier than the switch strip length so that it can be wrapped around it. Make sure that the aluminum foil strip does not break and should be intact in C-shape. If there is a slight split, the current won’t flow through the circuit and LED won’t emit any light.
Step 3: STEP2: Creating the Switch
- You can create a coin/button battery holder by cutting a circular ring of thin cardboard having inner circumference slightly more than the circumference of the battery so that battery fits in tightly inside it. Stick it on the C-leg as shown in Figure 5.
- Place the coin/button battery inside the holder as shown in Figure 6.
Step 4: STEP3: Completing the Circuit
- Place the LED legs over the opposite end of the switch and clamp them using a transparent tape or paper strips as shown in the Figure 7.
- Make sure you have the LED placed in the correct direction. Test this directly on the battery first.
- Test your circuit by pressing the switch over the battery.
- Check the conductivity using conductive materials like a coin (made of steel, nickel, brass), copper wire, or any iron object and non-conductive materials like rubber, plastic, cotton, wood and paper.
- You can color and decorate your designs and labels to give them liveliness!!
Kids should try the following experiments using this circuit as basic model
- Reverse the direction of LED legs over the circuit
- Add some more LEDs in series (make 2-3 cuts in the circuits and place LEDs across them) using one battery
- Add some LEDs in parallel
- Use 1-2 resistors in series and in parallel with a combination of LEDs and batteries.
- Add a buzzer instead of LED
You can modify this circuit to suit more complicated designs, imagination and experiment with numerous possibilities of utilising current on different electrical and electronics components.
Have fun and keep making !!!