Summertime is the perfect time for your children to explore their creative side while learning something new. Kids love to build things, and they love small gadgets. Below are some ideas for simple electronic projects that your kids will love. So, gather your supplies and let’s get started!
1. Cyborg Light Painting Gloves
The Concept: Touch your thumb and any of your fingers together and the LEDs attached to your fingers will light up. It’s a simple project that teaches your kids about circuitry.
What You’ll Need:
- A glove
- Different color LEDs
- Insulated wire
- Black electrical tape
- 3V coin battery
- Fusible iron-on interfacing
- A binder clip
- Wire strippers
- An iron
- Hot glue gun
Step 1: Iron on Tinfoil Pads
- Cut a 3×3 piece of tinfoil the length of your fingers and thumb. Fold the width of your finger a few times.
- Attach tinfoil to the first three fingers and thumb of the glove and cut off any excess bits of foil.
Step 2: Make the Circuit
- Cross the LED leg and the wire so they make a “v” shape. (Note: Use wires long enough to reach the battery and still let you move your hand.)
- Twist them together tightly and repeat for each finger.
- Connect all three together in succession, one after another.
Step 3: Attach the Battery
- Tape the end of the wire to the positive side of the battery.
- Tape the remaining wire to the other side of the battery. Wrap the wires as tightly as you can with black electrical tape. Secure the wires with the binder clip.
- Test your LEDs by lightly touching the negative. If they don’t light up, check your connections to make sure they’re firmly wrapped.
Step 4: Attach the Circuit to the Glove
- Bridge each of the LEDs over the tip of each finger. Wrap the LED with tape around the fingers.
- Take wire attached to the battery and tape it to the bottom of your thumb, leaving the top of the thumb exposed.
Once you test your glove to make sure the LEDs work, you are done! Now you can amaze your friends with your amazing creation!
With a flick of the antenna, watch the twitchbot move and its eyes light up. This project only takes 30 minutes to complete. You will, however, need to salvage parts from inside electronic enclosures contained within discarded electronics equipment. Think of it as a technology scavenger hunt, but it will only build excitement for the project.
What You’ll Need:
- Laser module from CD/DVD player (see instructions for removing the laser diode from its enclosure here)
- Metal wire
- Electrical wire
- Two 1.5V button cells
- Googly eyes
- LED light
- Electrical tape
- Small decorative items
- Hot glue gun
- Soldering iron
- Small pliers
- Wire snippers
Step 1: Locate the Twitch
- Locate the two contact points on the laser module that makes the lens twitch.
- You can tape a wire to each side of a battery and search for the right contacts by holding the two wires against all the contacts until the lens starts twitching.
Step 2: Attach the LED Light
- Position the LED where you want it on the laser module.
- Both leads should be on the back of the bot. Bend the shortest lead against the bot.
- Use electrical tape to eliminate contact between the lead and the laser module.
- This lead will make contact with the negative side of the battery.
- Glue on a button cell with the negative side down.
Step 3: Add the Antenna
- The antenna should be a stiff piece of metal wire. Decide the length (10-16 centimeters is ideal).
- Secure the antenna to the laser module with hot glue. Make sure it is secure.
- Solder this end of the antenna down to the first contact of the laser module you find.
- Bend the antenna so it crosses the lead of the LED.
- Bend the lead so it forms a little loop that traps the antenna.
- Make sure the antenna does not touch the loop.
Step 5: Boost the Power
- Boost the bot power by adding an additional cell battery.
- Glue the two cells together.
- Slide a small piece of scrap wire in between to ensure the connection.
Step 6: Power the Bot
- Make the second connection of the laser module to the positive side of the battery.
- If the cable shorts out, use some shrink tubing or electrical tape to reduce the power. You can also use a resistor.
- Solder the jumper wire or resistor to the second contact.
- Tape the other end to the positive side of the battery with electrical tape.
Step 7: Decorate Your Bot
- Now that the bot is powered up, add some decorations to make it unique
Your project is now complete! Not only is building a bot a solid STEM exercise, but it is a fun experience that is perfect for summer break.
3. Paper Plate Hovercraft
Believe it or not, you can build your own hovercraft using a few simple parts. This project is great for learning how helicopters work.
What You’ll Need:
- 1 Paper plate
- 2 Paper cups
- 12’ Electrical wire
- 2 Small paper clips
- 2 K4 Batteries
- 1 Paper clip
- ¼” Hot glue stick
- A small motor with a motor shaft
- Light tin foil
- Box Cutters
- Masking Tape
- Electrical Tape
- Ruler or straight edge
- Hot glue gun
Step 1: Make Your Marks
- Find and mark the center of the plate.
- Mark a line vertically across the cup so that one half of the cup is slightly smaller than the other half.
- Place the larger half of the cup along the center line of the plate. Mark where the two sides of the cup touch the plate
Step 2: Cut Along the Lines and Attach the Flap
- Cut along the center line of the plate between the cup lines.
- Now cut along the cup lines where there are markings. All three cuts should form a flap.
- Cut through the middle of the flap.
- Tape the flap along the inside of the cup.
Step 3: Assembling the Propeller
- Take another paper cup and draw a straight line vertically down the side.
- Draw a diagonal line from the top of the cup to the bottom about a halfway from the straight line. This will create the propeller.
- Cut along the vertical and horizontal line from the top of the cup to the bottom. Then cut along the bottom of the cup between the lines. This should create a curvature in the propeller.
- Hot glue the propeller to the motor shaft.
- Turn the motor on and test the propeller. It should blow air down toward the motor.
Step 4: Attach the Motor to the Cup
- Cut the electrical wire into two long pieces (at least 5 feet).
- Hot glue the end of each wire to the motor. Make sure the wires are touching the metal.
- Glue the motor to the top edge of the cup.
- Wrap tin foil around the end of one wire and tape it to the negative side of a battery.
- Wrap the end of another wire to an open paper clip.
- Tape the paper clip to the positive side of the battery but do not let it touch the tip.
Now your hovercraft is ready to go. All you have to do is touch the paper clip to the tip and the propeller will spin.
About the Author
Kate Began serves as the Sales and Marketing Manager for Polycase.
Kate oversees the customer service representatives, assists with product development and leads the marketing efforts from the Avon, Ohio headquarters.