Exploring Electronics during Circuit Adventures

 

We had a fun time with our Mini Makers this fall as we explored circuits and electronics in the Circuit Adventures course!

We kicked off the program by exploring objects that contain electrical circuits and identifying what exactly was making them work. On our first day we broke apart thrift store electronics like toys, remotes, phones radio’s etc. Youth had a blast tearing these objects apart and were able to identify some of the main components of the electrical circuits.

ca-collage1From there, youth began constructing their first basic circuits in the program. We talked about open and closed circuits and, very importantly, how to avoid a short circuit. Mini Makers also learned what voltage, current, insulators, conductors, and grounds are and why they are important aspects of successful circuits.

These simple LED circuits were also a fun way to try out a variety of switches including push/button switches, toggle switches, and flip switches.

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Mini Makers then embarked on an exciting journey into electromagnets and DC motors. Youth used their new skills to make fishing games using paper clip fish and electromagnet fishing poles, shimmying vibrobots, and personal spin art machines using DC motors. In these units we discussed questions like, “What is the difference between direct current and alternating current?”, How does an electromagnet work?”, and  “What is happening inside a motor to make it run?”. We loved seeing kids get to express their creativity and show of their new electronics skills!

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Later on in the course, youth had the chance to explore innovative and alternative materials for creating circuits. Mini Makers used conductive ink, LED stickers, and copper tape to make cards for various occasions that could light up at the press of a button.

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Now for the fun part, Makey Makey! Over several weeks, groups of youth worked together to develop designs for multiplayer boardgames powered by Makey Makey programmable circuit boards. After collaboratively planning out their game on paper, then constructing the components from cardboard and aluminum foil, students programmed the Makey Makey’s to create a “don’t complete the circuit” game. These games were variations on the classic game “Operation”, but with their own unique twist. Once all the games were completed, we invited older DHF youth, staff, and visitors to come play-test the games.

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For the final project in Circuit Adventures, youth worked together to create a Circuit City. Together, they all planned out what would be included in their city and each individually took responsibility for building different components. Depending on what they were making, students incorporated lights, switches, buzzers, sound, and spinners to bring their cities to life.

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Overall, this was an exciting course for us to run with our Mini Makers and we look forward to iterating on it and bringing it back in the future!

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