The Science of Circuitry

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The 4th graders had a blast making paper circuits!


They watched a presentation about how electrons, conductors and batteries work together to produce an electric current and how to harness the resulting energy. Then we watched a short video tutorial and a STUNNING inspirational video of Electronic Popables by Jie Qi before making our own simplified versions.


Everything is made up of atoms. Atoms are comprised of a nucleus (center) containing positively charged protons and neutral neutrons. Orbiting around this core are an equal number of negatively charged electrons. They are all held together by the force of attraction, + to -, – to + . The balance of + and – keeps  atoms stable.

Copper (Cu) makes a good conductor of electricity because it has 29 (-) electrons orbiting the (+) protons in the nucleus. Each shell can only contain up to a certain number of electrons. The maximum capacity of the innermost shell is 2 electrons, the 2nd, 8, and the 3rd, 18. In the case copper, because the 3rd shell cannot exceed 18 electrons, the remaining, single 29th free electron orbits all by itself in the 4th or outermost (valence) shell. Because it is so distant from the positive attraction of the nucleus, this free electron is easily attracted to other positive forces and away from the nucleus. Compelled to seek a positive force, these free electrons frantically & chaotically move about generating heat & energy. Through human intervention, we can channel that energy to power light, motion, and sound.                                                                                                                                                                   

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Students could choose from to-be-colored templates…

paper circuit 9

paper circuit 10

paper circuit 6

or, some of the more daring, drew their own…

paper circuit 3

paper circuit 1

They made STUNNING illuminated mandalas!

A_______’s “wiring” was every bit as interesting and elegant as her caticorn. Or is it a unicat?