# Operation Valentine: A Game, a Gift, a Lesson in Electric Circuits

16 Steps
Who said learning couldn’t be fun?  With “Operation Valentine,” a class can apply what they have learned about electric circuits and connections and end up creating a project that is sure to be a hit at home.  This project not only is a great classroom project for the student building it, but the finished game/toy can also be used to help younger students practice beginning reading skills and fine motor skills.  This is also a great gift to valentines of all ages.  Everyone, young and old, loves those little conversational hearts, and playing this game is quite addicting!

Instructional Objective:  By making the “Operation Valentine” project, students will apply their knowledge of simple electric circuits to create a game that can be used to help younger students practice beginning reading skills and fine motor skills.

Recommended ages:
To build
“Operation Valentine”:  grades 3 and up
To play “Operation Valentine”:  ages 4 and up

Where the idea came from
I often volunteer in my son’s classroom leading math games and crafts that I have designed.  I got the idea for making this game after chaperoning my son’s class in an Electric Circuit class at our local science museum.  The next day, he did not have school, so he wanted to make something with circuits.  I searched online trying to find ideas for making games with circuits.  The game, “Operation,” kept coming up, but all the suggestions related to these game required supplies that either I did not have or that were very expensive to make.  I also wanted to make a project that can be made in an hour or less with inexpensive items that most people would have in their home or classroom.

Format of the “Operation Valentine”  Instructable
Since I am designing this project to not only be used to teach children as young as 8 years old about circuits but also for children and adults to enjoy this as a gift or a toy, the format of my “Operation Valentine”  Instructable will be as follows:

Part I:  Prep work (done by an adult)
Part II:  Teacher’s instructions and project building done by students
Part III:  How to play “Operation Valentine”
Part IV:  Variations

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## Step 1: Part I, Step 1: Prep work (done by an adult): Gathering Supplies

The supplies that will be needed for each project for the prep work and for building by students are:

1 - small (1 ounce) box of conversational heart candies
1 - 9 volt battery
4 - small paper fasteners
1 – large paper fastener
1 – large paperclip
1 – piece of paper
String of lights that no longer work when plugged in
Permanent marker
Electrical tape
Clear tape
Scissors
Liquid glue
Wire stripper/cutter
Markers or crayons

Cost:  Less than \$1 each

Note:  I was able to purchase the boxes of heart candies for 4 for \$1, and the 9 volt batteries for 2 for \$1.  I use 9 volt batteries instead of smaller AA batteries because the 9 volts allow the light bulb to shine much brighter.

WYE_Lance says: Feb 8, 2012. 8:47 AM
Thank you for sharing this simple yet highly engaging and creative project. Using old xmas lights is genius! I'm interested in trying something like this in my own class. How could the prep time for this project be reduced, especially cutting out the boxes? Is there any step that you find students tend to need extra help? Thanks again!
mathiemom (author) in reply to WYE_LanceFeb 8, 2012. 2:24 PM
For a class of 12 students, it takes me a total of one hour to do all of the prep steps for all 12 projects. All wire cutting and stripping is done together, all wire hearts are bent at once, etc. This all-at-one-time prep approach is most time conserving for cutting the heart opening in the boxes. The most difficult and important step is making sure the holes in the notches around the heat opening are positioned correctly so that the paper fasteners and the paperclip heart fit properly.
mathiemom (author) in reply to WYE_LanceFeb 8, 2012. 3:43 PM
I also find that putting kids in pairs to help attach and tape the wires to the battery helps. Sometimes 4 hands are better than 2! Also, for troubleshooting, two brains are better than one. This also makes the students more responsible for their projects rather than asking the teacher for help. Another suggestion is to ask a couple of parents to volunteer to operate a "help desk" or a roving "geek squad" where the students check their connections and get help with troubleshooting.
jim_2000 says: Feb 8, 2012. 7:30 PM
Amazing and so simple. Who would have guessed the light bulbs would work with 9 volts?
mathiemom (author) in reply to jim_2000Feb 9, 2012. 8:21 AM
And most people have a strand of lights that won't work when plugged in! It is such an inexpensive way to play with circuits! There is also so much usable insulated wire on each strand of lights.
J-Five says: Feb 20, 2013. 4:07 PM
So cute
mathiemom (author) in reply to J-FiveFeb 20, 2013. 6:21 PM
Thank you! It always brings a smile to everyone.
masynmachien says: Mar 1, 2012. 9:39 AM
Truly inspired an inspiring!
mathiemom (author) in reply to masynmachienMar 1, 2012. 10:15 AM
Wow! Thanks so much!
TashaDax says: Feb 9, 2012. 10:35 AM
Great project! And not just for kids either :)
Have a question: Are the paper fasteners just there to hold the heart in place?