Thursday, September 17, 2015

Circuit Bugs

I made circuit bugs with my class of 4th graders this week.
I got the idea from Steam Powered Family.

I have 28 students, so I bought: 
Some notes on my purchases:
  • The LED lights: I had to buy 2 packs because 1 pack would have only made 25 bugs, and I needed 28. So, I have a lot of bulbs left over. The least popular colors with my 4th graders were white and yellow.
  • Wire: Yes, you read that right. I bought 3,000 feet of wire. I have LOTS left over. I made it easy on myself and measured out 3 feet of wire per child. Students then went back to their desk, cut their length of wire into fourths (four 9-inch wires), and then scraped 2 cm off both ends of each wire.
  • Electrical tape: I didn't need all of that tape. I gave each student 6 inches of the color of their choice, which was a little more than they actually needed. Each student cut the 6 inch piece of tape into two 3-inch pieces, which was more than enough.
  • Pipe Cleaners: This box came with 1,000 pipe cleaners, so yes, I have left overs of this too. Each student got to choose 6 pipe cleaners. Most of my students picked a minimum of 3 colors. I was really surprised. I had expected them to choose two colors and a glittery pipe cleaner that matched one of their chosen colors, but that was not at all what happened.
  • Glittery Pipe Cleaners: These were over-priced and not necessary, but they were fun. Silver was the most popular color.
  1. Cut 3 feet of wire per student.
  2. Have students cut their wire into four equal pieces.
  3. Show students how to safely scrape the red coating off the ends of their wires with their scissors.
  4. Each LED light has two legs. The longer leg is the positive leg. The shorter leg is the negative leg. Have students twist Wire #1 around the positive (long) leg of LED "A."
  5. Have students twist Wire #2 around the positive (long) leg of LED "B."
  6. Twist Wire #1 and Wire #2 together.
  7. Twist Wire #3 around the negative (short) leg of LED "A."
  8. Twist Wire #4 around the negative (short) leg of LED "B."
  9. Twist Wire #3 and Wire #4 together.
  10. Have students put LED "A" on one of the ends of the clothespin, and LED "B" on the other end of the clothespin.
  11. Test circuit with battery by touching twisted positive wires (wires 1 and 2) to one side of battery and twisted negative wires (wires 3 and 4) to the other side of the battery. If it doesn't work, turn the battery over. (Remove battery. There is no "Power" button, so if a student leaves the wires attached to the battery, it will drain the battery.)
  12. Secure wires to clothespin with electrical tape. (I gave each student 6 inches. They cut the tape into two 3-inch pieces.)
  13. Wrap the clothespin with your choice of pipe cleaners, and make legs, and - if you're making a butterfly - wings.
    (I gave each student 6 pipe cleaners, plus 1 glittery pipe cleaner.)
 Have fun! :)

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