Introduction: Snap Circuits

About: Ngo active in the field of digital mediation, based in Toulouse, France

Snap circuits are independent components that can be used to build an electronic circuit. They are visually clear and simple by being mounted on 3D printed pieces which can easily snap together to form temporary connections. Snap circuits provide components that can be used over and over again in building and experimenting with simple circuits, making them more visual and easy to understand to participants of a range of ages and abilities.

This activity introduces circuits and different electronic components in a simpler and more experimental setting.

Participants can build their own components that can easily snap and connect together providing them with a very visual and clear way of building and learning about circuits.

AGE: 6 to 15 years

TIME: 1 to 2 hours (+ 3D printing time)

Activity's Aims and Learning Objectives

- Simplifying circuits and making it more visual and more accessible to participants of a range of ages and abilities

- Allows experimentation and testing, aiming to build confidence and understanding

- Allows creativity and flexibility, aiming to provide resources that can help participants build and learn

- Creating an educational tool from scratch, using resources that are more readily available

- Building up to being able to gain understanding through a more visual and hands-on method of learning but then being able to apply it to a more complex setting.

- Learning about different circuit components

- Increased understanding of electronic circuits

- Opportunity to use 3D printing

- Opportunity to experiment with Computer Aided Design (CAD)

- Seeing how something can be made a lot cheaper when the design and idea is taken from something already exists and designing to remake them with materials that one has accessible to them


- Computer with access to TinkerCAD

- 3D printer

- Electronic components (such as LEDs, switches, buttons, resistors, temperature sensors, vibrating motors)

- Mini circular magnets (12x6mm - 2 needed for each)

- Glue gun

- Wire

- Soldering iron and solder

Step 1: Print Out Your Snap Circuit Boards

First, you will need to 3D print the snap part.

The stl file ready for 3D printing is available here.

You can also tweak this design on TinkerCAD and make it suitable to hold 3-legged components (ex. temperature sensor, light sensor) such as this design on, also on TinkerCAD.

Step 2: Attach the Magnets

Put some hot glue around the perimeter of each hole.

Place the 2 magnets in each of the hole in the 3D printed snap part. Make sure each magnet is securely fixed to the snap via the hot glue.

Step 3: Connect Your Circuit Component

Next fix your circuit component into place.

This can be done by putting the legs of the component through the holes in the 3D printed part. Using a small piece of cut wire extend the leg of the component so that it can reach the magnet. You will need to do this for each side.

Connect each piece of wire to each leg of the component by soldering.

Connect the wires to each of the magnets by soldering in place as shown in the image.

TIP: This can be quite difficult to do with the soldering iron being attracted to the magnets, so it is best to use a clamp to prevent the piece from moving around.

Step 4: Repeat for Other Circuit Components

Using the two connection point snap components, you can make components containing LEDs, buzzers and vibrating motors.

That’s just 3 examples, however, in principle any electronic component with 2 connection points can be mounted on these snap supports.

Step 5: Create a 3 Legged Circuit Snap Component

3 legged snap components can also be used with electronic components with 3 connection points, such as temperature sensors and switches.

Step 6: Build Your Circuit and Play!

Snap your components together directly or you can also use crocodile clips that will be attracted to the magnets to create your circuit.

Build, test, break apart and rebuild!

Snap circuits can also work with more advanced circuit activity, for example using Arduino or the Blynk app.

Step 7: Credits