Light It Up! - How to Teach Elementary School Kids to Make Their Customize Lamps




Introduction: Light It Up! - How to Teach Elementary School Kids to Make Their Customize Lamps

This lesson is designed based on the topic "Electricity and Light" in the curriculum of general study at school. It is the outcome of collaboration between school teachers, community makers and designers.

Lesson Profile:

  • Age group: 9 - 12 year old
  • Student grouping: individual work
  • Facilitator to student ratio = 1:10 (recommend 1: 5)
  • Class size: 30 students
  • No. of lesson: 6 (1.5 hr each)

Lesson goals:

To facilitate the kids to...

  • Learn about the basic circuitry
  • Learn basic of safe wiring of a table lamp
  • Design a table lamp stand using basic woodwork skills
  • Design a lampshade

Role of Facilitator:

  • Give advises on students’ projects
  • Ask questions
  • Help students set goals and track progress
  • Make time for reflection
  • Make sure students play safely!


Safety Equipments

  • Safety goggles
  • Gloves

Wiring of Lamp

  • Socket
  • Line switch
  • 13A Plug (in UK, Hong Kong, Singapore)
  • 3W Light bulb (recommend LED as it is less hot, thus more safe to let students to handle)
  • 18/3 wire lamp cord (1m per student)
  • Test pen/Neon Testing Screwdriver or multimeter
  • Electrical insulation tape
  • Screwdriver

# You can get these in home repair stops, hardware stores or online retailers.

Lamp Stand design

  • scrap wood (recommend ~5mm plywood board and wooden rod)
  • Handsaws
  • Screwdriver
  • screws
  • hand drills
  • Sandpaper
  • Any recycling materials (optional)

Step 1: Project Overview & Safety Induction (Lesson 1)

Go Through Project Overview (5 min)

Show the demo to the students to explain to students what they will do in the coming sessions.

"As you guys had designed a lampshade in the design class, now you can

Make connection:

  • "You canHave you ever think of how a l

Introduce Safety Rules(15 min)

Safety Rules:

  • No run or fight
  • Tie up long hair
  • Do not wear loose clothing
  • Do not wear gloves when using drills (If the glove gets caught in the bit, the momentum of the spinning can pull your glove in towards the tool which can pull it off - and potentially some of you along with it.)
  • Use clamps to secure things when you need to cut with saws
  • Return the tools in its own place
  • Keep the Maker room neat and tidy

Activity 1: Electric Shock

Here, I recommend you to do something dangerous with your kids. Of course, I’m not talking about things that are life-threatening or emotionally scarring. I got this idea from Gever Tulley, who is the founder of Tinkering School and he gave a TED talk on the topic of "5 dangerous things you should let your kids do". This is worth a try. Let your students to lick a 9-volt battery in order to experience a mild electric shock. By doing this we tell our students electric shock is painful and can be life-threatening. The primary message is to let them know the importance of safety when dealing with electricity.

Step 2: Wiring - Part 1 (Lesson 1)

Activity 1: draw circuit diagram (15 min)

  • Facilitators can lead this session by asking "How can we connect a switch, a plug and a light bulb to light it up?"
  • Then invite 2 - 3 students to draw their own answer on blackboard
  • Test it out!
  • prepare a electrical block

Activity 2: Identify Live, Neutral, Earth wires (5 min)

  • Close up of electric cord (label L, N, E)

Activity 3: Stripping wires (15 min)

  • Facilitators can go around different groups to demonstrate how to strip a wire with scissors. Then ask the students to practice stripping a wire

Step 3: Wiring - Part 2 (Lesson 2)

Activity 4: Assembly (60 min)

Ask students to assembly the distributed parts (i.e. sockets, plugs, line switch etc.) with the help of circuit diagram they drew in Lesson 1.

1. Wiring plug

- Students unscrew and open the plug to observe its interior look

- Ask them to guess how to connect the 3 colored wires to the plug

2. Wiring line switch

- Open the lid of the switch and observe how it works

3. Wiring socket

Step 4: Plug In! (Lesson 3)

Yeah! Your students finally got all parts connect and I know they must be excited to see their handiwork shine, BUT WAIT!!! Safety first.

Remember! Do test your circuit before plugging in!

If you plug your lamp in without testing whether or not you wired it correctly, there's a risk of getting a shock. So this is a very important step.
There is a safe and easy way to test connections before you plug in, by using a continuity tester or multimeter.

Final safety check!

Telling the students keep all lid open to let you examine first before they plug in. Check:

  • Do all wires connected correctly?
  • Are the wires secured firmly?
  • Is there any copper fibres stack out or touching the adjacent wire?

After final confirm everything is alright, let the student to plug in under your supervision.

Step 5: Design Lamp Stand (Lesson 3)

Drawing Plans (15 min)

Distribute graph paper to students and lead them to do the following steps:

  1. Ask them to draw a 3D sketch of their design with dimensions (may instruct them to draw on one side of the paper)
  2. Then let them to draw the the pen view, elevation view and section view of their design
  3. Finally guide them to work out a detailed cutting list (with dimension, quantity and material !)

Step 6: Build the Stand (Lesson 4 & 5)

  1. First, revisit the safety rules with students. Especially those related to handling hand tools (i.e. saw, power drills, hammer etc.)
  2. Students are then asked to pick up materials they need at the materials corner, which 5mm thick wooden boards, some small wooden pieces and long wood rods are provided.
  3. I group the students to give a brief introduction of how to use the handsaw and power drills properly.
  4. Now they are good to go!

Note: Trust is a powerful tools in teaching. When kids can feel you trust them can do things properly and safely, they will try their best to be a great child. How to show them you trust them? What I did is telling them "Now you know the safety rules and how to use the tools, I trust you can handle them properly. So when you saw your classmates are doing dangerous act when using the tools, please tell them the right way of doing it."

Step 7: Put Them Together (Lesson 5)

Step 8: Finally...consolidation & Reflection (Lesson 6)

It's nice to ask students to come seat into circle and share what they have learnt along the way. Below are the discussion questions I used in my class:

  • What is your favourite part in the table lamp making class?
  • What challenges did you encounter? And how did you tackle it?
  • What have you learn along the way?
  • What improvements you suggest to bring into this class?

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    3 years ago

    It looks like they had a lot of fun! :)