Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Simple Circuit Canvas Creature Project for Kids

During the school break, we created a simple craft and electronics project to make with our kids. I love the idea of adding electronics to a craft activity. We had fun drawing pictures and learned about the polarity of electricity.

These simple circuit canvas creatures are quick and easy to make and you only need a few inexpensive resources. My original idea was soon modified and improved by our 7 year olds. Read on to learn how we made it.

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Items you'll need

Minature canvas
Sharpie pens
Sticky tape
LED light
Coin cell battery

Plan your design

My idea was to make a firefly using the LED for the glowing body. I wanted my electronics, battery, leads and LED light, to be visible on the front of the canvas. My bug drawing was designed around the electronics.

When the kids started their projects, they wanted the electronics to be hidden. They modified their design accordingly.

If you struggle to come up with ideas, use the internet to search for images which the kids can copy onto the canvas with a pencil.

How to make it

Once your design is planned, start drawing your bug using the Sharpies. Our kids, spent a long time drawing their creatures. I loved their creativity.

Now you can add the electronics. It's important to connect the positive terminal of the battery to the positive pin of the LED. (See more information below in How the electronics work). We just used sticky tape to connect the LED pin to the coin cell battery. Where I used an extending wire, I used pliers to secure the wires with a few twists and curler the pins of the LED. The children wanted their battery and connection hidden behind the canvas, so we used a tapestry needle to poke a hole through the canvas. Feed the pins of the LED through the holes and connect to the battery on the back.

You can create a simple switch, by leaving one of the LED pins loose and it requires someone to push it onto the battery to light up the LED, like the cameleon's tongue. Alternatively you can slip a piece of paper, cardboard or plastic (something non-conductive) between the battery and the LED pin to switch the light on and off.

How the electronics work

A coin cell battery has a positive and a negative terminal. We normally have some coin cell batteries in the house ready for a small, low power project like this one. Coin cell batteries are not rechargeable, but they are cheap enough to buy in bulk. You can get alkaline and lithium coin cell batteries and they come in different sizes. For this project we used a Lithium CR2032 3V Battery.

A LED light has a positive and negative pin. There are a handful of identifiers for finding the positive and negative pins on an LED. The longer leg is the positive, anode pin. If the legs are the same length, the flat edge on the LED's outer casing is negative, the cathode. LEDs are light-emitting diodes, and diodes only allow electric current to flow in one direction from the anode to the cathode.

(Read: What is a Diode from Sparkfun)

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