Popsicle Flashlights – Simple Circuits with a Switch – SCOPES Digital Fabrication

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Fab Lab
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We are Cook Inlet Tribal Council’s Fabrication Lab. We are based out of Anchorage Alaska serving Alaska Native and American Indian students based in the Anchorage school district. We teach design, building, and fabrication with a cultural emphasis. Our different… Read More

Summary

Learn about electricity and build a simple circuit with a switch using some very simple materials.

What You'll Need

Popsicle Stick

LED (Light Emitting Diodes)

Coin Cell Battery (3V-5V; depending on the voltage of the LEDs)

Binder Clip (small)

Copper Foil Tape

Scissors

 

The Instructions

Get to Know Your LED

If you look at a LED, you will notice one leg of the LED is longer than the other. The long leg is the positive side of the LED and the short leg is the negative side. The reason why we need to know the difference in polarity of the LED legs is because it will not work if the positive side of the LED isn't touching the positive side of the battery and the negatives aren't touching.

Now pick up your LED and your battery. Straddle or sandwich your battery between the LED legs. Make sure your positive leg (long leg) is toward/touching the positive (“+”) side of the battery and the side of the coin battery with no writing is touching the negative leg (short leg) of the LED.

Copper Foil Time

Place the adhesive copper foil tape on both sides of the Popsicle stick.

Place a piece of copper foil tape lengthwise down the Popsicle stick on both sides. Ensure one side is longer than the other(about 1/2″ or so longer), this will help us determine the long leg of the LED. Ensure that the copper foil is long enough to contact the battery (placed at the bottom of the Popsicle stick), but doesn’t come into contact with the binder clip.

LED Time

Straddle your LED around the top of the Popsicle stick.

Sandwich your Popsicle stick in between the LED legs. Make sure the long leg is towards the side with the long piece of copper foil and the short leg is towards the side with the shorter length of copper foil. Place a small piece of copper foil over the legs to secure them to the Popsicle stick.

Binder Clip Time

Place Binder clip on the bottom of the Popsicle stick

Place binder clip on the Popsicle stick and make sure the handles touch the the copper foil on the stick on each side. If it doesn’t, put a longer piece of copper foil down the length of the stick, so that it touches the binder clip handles.

Secure the Battery

Secure the battery to the Popsicle stick

Secure the battery by opening the binder clip and slipping the coin cell battery, positive face down towards positive leg (long leg) of LED.

Test It!

Using the switch (binder clip) test your flashlight.

Use the handle of the binder clip on the opposite side of the battery to touch to the copper foil and complete the circuit.

This should turn the LED on!

 

Troubleshooting:

If LED isn’t turning on, check to make sure positive side of battery is touching (facing) long leg (positive) of LED.

Check to make sure copper foil is secured over LED legs. Use pressure and push down the copper foil.

Check to make sure no copper foil from one side of the Popsicle stick is touching the other side’s copper foil. This will cause a short.

 

Standards

  • (4-PS3-4): Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

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