Introduction: "Glow Stick"

About: The Maker Studio is a museum makerspace at Science City in Kansas City, MO. To see more of our creations follow us on Instagram @The_Maker_Studio or @ScienceCityKC

Make a glowing stick wand for wizarding fun, dark playtime and long term exposure photos.

Step 1: Bill of Materials

  • Tape
  • stick- larger than 1/4" wide
  • LED (We used a color changing LED for extra fun)
  • coin cell battery
  • 1/4" copper tape
  • Large metal paperclip
  • Pliers/shears (optional)

Step 2: Break Off Uneven Bits

If it is very uneven at the top of the stick you can break the uneven part off with a pair of pliers or shears.

Step 3: Add the First Piece of Copper Tape

Cut your copper tape into two strips that are about 2/3 the length of your stick. Starting at the top of the stick; lay down the copper tape so that it runs down the length of the stick. Be careful to keep the tape from twisting around the stick.

Step 4: Add the Second Piece of Tape

On the opposite side of the stick do the same. Ensure that the two pieces of copper tape do not touch as they are the + and - sides of our circuit and if they touch they'll cause a short circuit, which for our purposes will make the LED not glow. When you're done laying the second piece of tape make sure it is about an inch taller than the first.

Step 5: Add the LED

Identify the + leg of the LED, it is the longer one, this leg will connect with the longer piece of tape. Lay the legs of the LED on either side of the stick, touching each one of the pieces of copper tape, and tape them down tightly with clear tape.

Step 6: Add Paperclip

Unfold your paperclip into an "L" shape. Unfold the long side of the paperclip so that it's straight. Hold it in place on top of the long piece of copper tape and tightly twist it around a few times. Make sure that they still folded end of the paperclip is hovering over the short piece of copper tape.

Step 7: Add the Battery

Slip the paperclip out of the way so that you can add on the battery. The coin cell will go on the short piece of copper tape with the + side facing up. Add clear tape to hold the coin cell onto the stick on the top and bottom of the battery, leaving the middle exposed. The electricity won't flow through the clear tape so you need part of the battery exposed.

Step 8: Complete & Test the Switch

Since the long piece of copper tape is longer, it should remain exposed. If the clear tape is covering all of the long piece of copper tape, either scrunch it up a bit or re-place it. Then slide the paperclip back up so that the twisted part is touching the exposed copper tape and the looped part is, again, hovering over the battery. Now you can test your circuit by holding the stick and pushing the looped end of the paperclip down onto the battery. This will close the circuit and light up the LED.

Step 9: Troubleshooting

If your circuit does not work:

  • Check to see that you added the long leg of the LED to the long strip of copper tape
  • Check to see that the - side of the battery is touching the short strip of copper tape
  • Check to see that your LED and battery are still working by disconnecting them and pinching them together; long leg touching + side and short leg touching - side.
  • Ensure that your paperclip is metal and not plastic coated.