The Olympics are coming and we are getting excited! To celebrate we created a special STEM Challenge, an Olympic STEM challenge involving circuits to build an Olympic Torch. We enjoy building circuits and I know my readers do too, because you keep Circuit Bugs near the top of my most popular posts of all time. I hope you enjoy this circuit challenge.
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To do this Olympic STEM circuit activity you will need a few materials. I’ve designed it to be quite easy for upper elementary and middle school children to complete.
Battery pack with lead wires and ON/OFF switch
Black construction paper
Electrical tape (multiple colors – black, green, blue, yellow, red)
Tissue paper (yellow/red/orange)
The first thing you need to do is assemble your circuit. I talk quite a bit about how circuits work and the details about LEDs on the Circuit Bugs activity. If you need more details, hop over there.
Simply insert two AA batteries into the pack.
Attach 2 LEDs by matching them up, short leg to short leg, long to long.
Test the LEDs by attaching the leads from the battery pack and turning on the switch, if that doesn’t work, switch the leads. Still having issues? Change out the LEDs.
Turn off the battery pack and secure the leads to the LEDs using electrical tape. Test again to ensure everything still works.
Now it’s time to assemble your torch.
Using a piece of black construction paper, measure out approximately 6″ x 6″ square. Line the top with a strip of tin foil approximately 1.5″ wide. The tin foil helps reflect the light to make it brighter, but it will affect your circuit if you haven’t fully covered your LED connectors with electrical tape. Use caution to ensure you don’t short your circuits.
Place your battery pack on the bottom with the switch at the base (this way it is really easy to reach in and turn it ON/OFF), then position the LEDs approximately half way across the tin foil. Tape into place. Roll your construction paper around the battery pack snugly, and tape to secure.
Using the colored electrical tape, decorate your torch in the Olympic colors (red, blue, green, yellow, black). At the top, leave some of the tape exposed so you can attach some pieces of the tissue paper.
Doesn’t it look festive?
When you are all finished, go into a dark room and turn on your Olympic torch! It may be difficult to see in a bright room, so going to a dark place will give you the best effect.
Note: As with all circuit work, if you notice any significant heat from the batteries or LEDs immediately turn off, disconnect and take apart your creation. I haven’t noticed any heat from any of our circuit activities, but ensure you are using common sense and staying safe. Also, always make sure these are turned off when not in use.
The Olympic STEM Challenge is a great activity for upper elementary and middle grade students looking to show off their Olympic pride. The torches will be perfect for the opening ceremonies!
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