Introduction: LED Throwie - CMH Version

About: More than 14 pulsating exhibits make the Children's Museum of Houston one of the top rated in the country. Packed with daily activities and invigorating performances, it’s the place where minds come out to pl…

Make light that sticks!

This is one of the 48 projects for our Instructables: Made In Your Mind (IMIYM) exhibition at the Children’s Museum of Houston showing from May 26, 2012 - November 4, 2012. Produced in partnership with Instructables, IMIYM is an exhibit where families work together to build different fun, toy-like projects that help construct knowledge and skills related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics while instilling a “do-it-yourself” attitude in kids so they feel empowered to explore, tinker, and try to make things themselves. To learn more, check out the article here.

For this project, we've taken an Instructable created by someone else and modified it for use in the Museum. This specific project is based on the LED Throwies project by Q-Branch, but there may be others on Instructables that are also similar. In fact, this project is pretty much the same project, save for some slightly different materials, so full credit for the project goes to Q-Branch. Often, the materials and process for building our projects are designed for use with a large number of visitors (we see over 800,000 annually) and the need to ensure safety in a mostly non-facilitated environment. So, yes, many of these projects have room for improvement in both materials and methodology, which is PRECISELY what we want to encourage the kids to do. So please do share your ideas for improvement and modifications!

Step 1: What You Need:

We are selective in our materials for cost, ease of use, and safety due to our high traffic (800,000 visitors annually). So, for our purposes, this design worked best. But you may have other ideas - please share!

1 - 10mm LED (while you can get small quantities of LED from Hobby Shops, we buy ours in bulk from Leading LEDs)
1 - CR2032 Coin Battery (again, you can get small quantities in several places, but we buy ours in bulb from Batteries and Butter)
1 - 3/4" Ceramic Disk Magnet (this is where we differ most. Rare earth magnets which most people use pose health hazards for kids, so we use basic ceramic magnets that we purchase from
1 - 1" Square of double-sided foam tape
Masking Tape

Step 2: The Video

We offer optional video segments of each step for this project in the actual exhibit. Here is a compilation of all the steps.

Step 3: Step 1

Find the long and the short wire coming off the LED. Slide the LED over the battery with the long wire on the “+” side of the battery and the short wire on the other side of the battery. If the LED doesn’t light up, try flipping the battery over before taping. Use masking tape to secure the LED to the battery.

Step 4: Step 2

Attach one side of the double-sided foam tape to the battery. Attach the magnet to the other side of the foam tape.

Step 5: To Use

To use, GENTLY toss the magnet onto a magnetic surface. The LED Throwie should stick. Keep in mind the ceramic magnet isn't as strong as a rare earth magnet, so hurling it like you would a rare earth magnet won't work.

LEDs (aka Light-Emitting Diodes) produce an effect called electroluminescence, which is when a material exposed to electrical current releases visible light, ultraviolet, and/or infrared waves. Because they don't use a filament to create light like incandescent bulbs, they last MUCH longer. So, when the light goes out, just replace the battery - the LED should still be good to go!