Mini LED Flashlight - SCOPES Digital Fabrication

Lesson Details

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Kevin McKee
Kevin McKee
K-12 teacher
Kevin McKee is a certified teacher in secondary mathematics as well as special education.  He attended Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) to obtain his degree.  He currently works as a teacher in the IU1 Fab Lab at Colonial where he… Read More


Students will design and fabricate their very own mini LED flashlights! Students will create a case that fits all of the internal components of the flashlight. This can be done using the step-by-step tutorial design that follows, or by creating their own unique and original design. They will be given all of the internal components of the flashlight to assemble and solder correctly before inserting it into their designed case.



At the end of this experience students will be able to:

  • Create concept models (vector) using drafting/design software such as Google Sketch Up and CorelDraw.
  • Use this same software to create and manipulate designs/images (raster) onto their cases.
  • Use to create a simple box vector to house their mini LED flashlight.
  • Understand resistors and what they are used for.
  • Understand the basic components of electronics used to power and hook up an LED bulb.
  • Learn to correctly solder wires, bulbs, and a resistor in their correct places in order to power the light.
  • Proficiently set up the file to be printed on the laser, setting all preferences for vectoring and rastering to the correct specifications for the project/material being used.
  • Communicate and collaborate with peers on problem solving and group work.
  • Present final outcomes — from concept to final production — including setbacks, future improvements, and final product.
  • Identify correct terms for the design and production process such as vector vs. raster etc.


The Instructions

Define Light and Research Resistors

TEACHER NOTE: Ask students the importance of light and what it would be like living in a world without light. Review main ideas and concepts of light and resistors.

Have students discuss what they know about light and research the basic components of light. You may watch the following video on introduction to light- its types and properties.


Show and define resistors and talk about what they are used for. You may watch the following introductory video on resistors and also find more information at


Research Ohm’s Law (1827) and learn about the German scientist.


Essential Questions: What are the main components of light and what is a resistor used for?

  1. In a whole class session, students will learn the components needed to correctly solder and wire an LED bulb to light up using a resistor to prevent from blowing the bulb.
  2. Define the following key concepts:
  3. Sources of Light: Natural light such as the sun, moon, lightning, etc. versus artificial light such as flashlights, candles, light fixtures, etc.
  4. EMR: Electromagnetic Radiation; a kind of radiation including visible light, radio waves, gamma rays, and X-rays, in which electric and magnetic fields vary simultaneously.
  5. Wavelengththe distance between successive crests of a wave, especially points in a sound wave or electromagnetic wave.
  6. Frequency: the number of occurrences of a repeating event per unit of time.
  7. Resistorpassive two-terminal electrical component that implements electrical resistance as a circuit element. In electronic circuits, resistors are used to reduce current flow, adjust signal levels, to divide voltages, bias active elements, and terminate transmission lines, among other uses.


Formative Assessment: Students should understand the general make-up of light and how it is produced. They should be able to define the purpose of a resistor and when or why it would be needed.

Solder the internal components of the flashlight in order to correctly light the LED bulb

Create a Vector for a Casing Design

Students could use this step for designing their case or design something specific or unique to their own desires (depending on time, materials, etc.). This modification would be solely done at the instructor’s discretion. It would be interesting to see all the different types of cases they would come up with.

Putting It All Together

After the case is cut out and completed, students can then build the case leaving one side off to insert the internal components. They can then insert the bulb on one end, the tactile switch on the other end, and the battery holder and wires into the case before placing on the final side. Note: we place a small piece of electrical tape to the end of the battery holder to prevent the tactile switch from making contact with the metal on the holder (this made the LED bulb light up without pressing the switch).


Formative Assessment: Have students review the attached mini LED flashlight rubric (attached) and discuss what changes might improve their performance.

Mental Health Component

In this lesson, students are taught to develop insight and reflective skills that enhance emotional self-control. This awareness of thoughts and feelings create a space for mental and emotional awareness continuing the metaphor of the project where resistors regulate the energy of the input power source (battery) to control the output (light) in the flashlight project. “Self-awareness is the first step (out of four) in improving your emotional intelligence. This skill allows you to spot your emotions as they arise (and not after their devastating effect). It also helps you to anticipate the upcoming emotional reaction by defining and being aware of the things that drive you towards those emotions.” Gil Mayor, Author Originally published at May 3, 2018

Students discuss light and resistors as metaphors for developing skills of self-awareness. The physics of light video in the lesson plan referenced ‘dark’ night as a time of difficult emotional and psychological stress, stating that ‘everything will be alright’ as a metaphor for lifting of the darkness and bringing ‘light’ into your life. The media and the arts use this light/dark metaphor to illustrate and garner support for reducing stigma associated with living with mental health challenges.


Students are asked to reflect on a time when their emotional state felt both light and dark.


The self -awareness process begins with identifying thoughts and feelings when confronted with difficult circumstances and events in any life situation, which could include the classroom. During FabLab project completion, students can become frustrated and agitated, and lose patience with the completion process. Students are taught to utilize self- awareness as a coping skill by increasing self – awareness, naming thoughts, feelings and behavioral responses. For a kid friendly explanation:

Students learn that by naming, they create a space – a pause – to choose behavioral responses (outputs). Using the light metaphor, students learn that by controlling the energy source of inputs (thoughts and feelings), the energy of outputs is regulated.


This self-awareness exercise can be expanded by asking students to consider the light and energy metaphor as it may relate to their life experiences and then to share with the group on a voluntary basis. FabLab example would be, considering the emotional energy of frustration and anger, what thoughts and feelings precipitated (inputs) the (behavioral) response you had when the solder didn’t hold from the battery holder to the lightbulb? Did you breathe, stop to think of how to adjust your solder angle (problem-solving), try soldering again (persistence), ask for help, or quit the project and state you couldn’t do it, it was too complicated, intricate, or other? What were you aware of in your thought process and emotional response that influenced your behavior? Asking questions of students to reflect on internal processes assist in increasing self-awareness, and eventually, self-control.

Specific skills taught include making “I” statements- naming thoughts and feelings. Emotions and feeling words are identified and named: Angry or Mad, Anxious, Bored, Calm, Cautious, Confused, Curious, Embarrassed, Excited, Foolish, Frustrated, Happy, Helpless, Hopeful, Jealous, Nervous, Overwhelmed, Proud, Sad, Scared, Shy, Surprised, Worried. A short playlist from The Inside Out movie helps prompt students with emotion naming:

Following naming, a body scan exercise increase awareness of how that emotion is felt in the body. This allows students to link thoughts with feelings. Example: ( ).

Students choose an emotion to explore, i.e. excitement, and discuss the thoughts, the “I” statements as input to that feeling. Next, how did that thought, ‘power’ the feeling in the body? Frustration, “this is too hard” thought, how did that feel in the body? Perhaps as warm sensations of flushing from an increased heart rate, or a tension or twitching in muscles and joints, maybe muscle stiffening or tightening as tight fists or clenched teeth. Instruct students to interrupt those thoughts to change the outputs. Choose to breath, or another purposeful relaxation response, and notice the outputs as different physical reactions. Students learn to make specific statements “I am having these thoughts, and this leads me to get really mad”; and respond with intentional directed self-statement “I need to slow my body down.” Another example, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard!” is a thought process that may produce the feeling energy of anxiety and overwhelm. By learning to reframe thoughts, “this is challenging, but I can do it with help” can produce a different emotional response as calm and excitement.

Students feel supported that enhances self-confidence in expressing thoughts and emotional states during the FabLab project completion.

The goal is not only to teach students self-awareness that improves emotional self- regulation, but also a lifelong skill of internal awareness and reflection that produces the life long skill of self -development.


  • (HS-PS3-3): Design, build, and refine a device that works within given constraints to convert one form of energy into another form of energy.
  • (9-10.RST.3): Follow precisely a complex multistep procedure when carrying out experiments, taking measurements, or performing technical tasks, attending to special cases or exceptions defined in the text.
  • (Fab-Safety.2): I can operate equipment in a Fab Lab following safety protocols.
  • (Fab-Modeling.2): I can construct compound shapes and multi-part components ready for physical production using multiple representations.
  • (Fab-Electronics.1): I can follow instructions to build a simple electrical circuit using conductive material, basic components, and power.
  • (Fab-Fabrication.1): I can follow instructor guided steps that link a software to a machine to produce a simple physical artifact.
  • (Fab-Design.1): I can be responsible for various activities throughout a design process within a group under instructor guidance.

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