Paper Home With an Autonomous Electrical Power Supply

Introduction: Paper Home With an Autonomous Electrical Power Supply

I am a STEM teacher in primary education and I have won so far 14 international awards for my STEAM projects. I was planning a new project for the subject of physics related to electricity but due to the coronavirus outbreak I didn’t have time to implement my new project in my classroom. I want to share with you this project, that requires a lot of hard work but it enhances creativity and develops many skills. I will present you how you could build a model of a paper home with an autonomous electrical power supply, therefore a model of a paper self-sufficient house through a manually operated generator.

Here you can find and download a file with all the photos and videos containing the construction instructions in details.



1. A thick piece of cardboard, preferably cut from a cardboard box

2. Wooden skewers (like the ones used for cooking shish kebab)

3. Some drinking straws

4. Tongue depressors

5. Ice cream sticks

6. A 12V DC motor (which will act as a Generator) with a small pulley on the shaft

7. A white colored 3V- 5mm LED light

8. Glue suitable for paper

9. Instant glue

10. Enameled Cooper Wire (0.45mm)

11. Two thin strips of aluminum cut from a soft drink can

12. The lid from a soft drink can which will act as a cover for the street light

13. A cotton swab (q-tip) with a perforated stem

14. Two rubber bands that will be used to transmit motion

15. Some toothpicks

16. A small screw (it will be used as a door knob for the door of the house)

17. A fine sheet of gelatin sheet which will be used to build the windows of the house

18. Slim wire that will be used to connect the street light and the internal LEDs to the electrical power transmission line.

19. A bead for the manual operation handle


1. A pair of compasses

2. Paper Cutter (Thin)

3. Wire cutter

4. Silicone gun

5. 40W soldering iron

Step 1: Construction of the Power Generation Unit

1. Using the compass and the paper cutter, build two large pulleys and a smaller one. (Photos 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 included in the folder)

2. Build the box that will support the engine (Generator) and the pulleys (Photos 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 included in the folder).

3. Fix the motor and the pulleys in place within the box very carefully, ensuring that they are in alignment and then build the manual operation handle. (Photos 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 included in the folder).

4. Use the silicone gun to glue the production unit onto the large piece of cardboard (dimensions 35x45cm).

Step 2: Construction of the Electricity Transportation Poles

1. Using the wooden skewers, the toothpicks, the ice cream sticks and the aluminum strips, build the support poles for the power lines, which “transport” electricity from the generator to the consumers.

2. For the support bases of the poles you will have to construct two cylinders as shown in the photos (Photos 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 included in the folder).

Step 3: Construction of Lighting on the Road. Placing the Poles

1. Attach the two wires to the legs of the LED light in order to make them longer. Make sure that you remember which pole (leg) is the positive one. Pass the wires through the stem of the cotton swab and fix the light in place on the top of the pole with the silicone gun.

2. In order to create the cover for the light, use the lid of the soft drink can, after having first curved it a bit with the help of a pencil. Place the cover on the LED and fix it in place with a drop of warm silicone, which should be poured really carefully.

3. Attach the support bases on their poles and then place the poles on the large cardboard. Make sure that you maintain the symmetry of the space (Photos 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 included in the folder).

Step 4: House Construction

1. Cut the parts of the house out of a piece of cardboard. The dimensions are shown in the photos.

2. Build the window frames using ice cream sticks.

3. Pass the toothpicks and form the railing.

4. Turn the pieces upside down and glue in place the pieces of gelatin sheet which will stand-in for glass windows.

5. Finally, cut away the door and place the screw where the doorknob should be. Now glue the parts of the house together, except for the roof (Photos 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42 included in the folder).

Step 5: Home Lighting Construction

1. Connect two LEDs in parallel and extend their connection using two thin wires of different colors.

2. Glue the LEDs on a tongue depressor using silicone and place it between the walls of the house. Fix it in place with silicone.

3. Drill two holes in the back wall of the house and pass through it the cables of the ceiling light that you’ve just made.

4. Glue the roof of the house in place with silicone. If there is a gap at the top, cover it with one or two wooden skewers.

5. Finally, glue the house to the platform (large piece of cardboard) with silicone. (Photos 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 included in the folder).

Step 6: Connections

1. Take a 8cm longue tongue depressor and open two small holes on it which will support the conductors. Place the tongue depressor with the holes onto the box of the power generation unit.

2. Using the enameled wire as a conduit, start making the Connections. Start with the engine (Generator). Then wrap the conduit around the power transportation poles and then connect the street lamp and the internal light of the house. Caution: The enameled wire must be thoroughly cleaned with the paper cutter in order for it to be properly soldered on the appropriate connections (Photos&Video 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55 included in the folder).

Your paper home is ready!!You can paint in any creative way and colors you want and set it in motion!!

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    Penolopy Bulnick
    Penolopy Bulnick

    2 years ago

    Nice job on your project :)

    You should consider entering the Cardboard Speed Challenge :)