Design Challenge: Paper Circuits

Introduction to the challenge

Prompts and questions to ask the students

  • What is a circuit? What are its components?
  • What is an LED? What is the full form of “LED”? (Light emitting diode)
  • Where have you seen LEDs?
  • Have you ever worked with an LED? Where and how?
  • What is a battery? Why is it needed and where is it used?
  • Where have you seen a battery? How many kinds of batteries can you think of?
    • Coin cell in a watch
    • AA / AAA in toys and remotes
    • Car batteries
  • Can you connect any side of LED/battery to each other?
    • Poles (+/-)

Videos to watch before the challenge  

Your Mission

  • Create a card, picture, or other craft that includes battery-powered lights that can be turned on and off.
  • Use the Engineering Design worksheet to plan your design, including where the lights, the circuit tape, and the battery will be located. Document your trial results and changes made. Take pictures or record video.
  • To successfully light the LED, your circuit has to be complete. Conductive materials (for example: metals like copper and steel) must carry electricity from the “-” side of the battery, through the conductive components, and back to the “+” side of the battery.
  • Where would be a good place to include a switch? Leave a gap in the circuit that can be opened and closed with a metal lever or flap.
  • Pro Tip: LED legs are different lengths because their direction in the circuit matters. One leg should point toward the positive side of the battery (following the circuit) and the other leg should point toward the negative side of the battery.
  • Pro Tip: Don’t be surprised if the circuit doesn’t work the first time. Check the direction of your LED legs or the direction of the battery. Check to be sure that the circuit is complete

Aim: To understand and use LEDs and batteries in a creative and artistic manner.


  • Include at least 2 lights in your design
  • Include at least 1 switch in your design


  • Batteries
  • Copper Tape
  • Paper
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • LEDs
  • Paper Clips
  • Stickers
  • Pipe Cleaners
  • Markers or other art supplies

Engineering Design Process

Step #1: Explore the available materials and sketch a plan for your first design below

Step #2: Build your first prototype! Feel free to alter your plans above as you build.

Step #3: Test! See how well your prototype works. Record your observations.

Step #4: Modify! Make modifications and retest at least 3 times. Keep making changes to improve this first design! For each new test, record the results. Make sure to record each change, what it results in and what you learned from it.


  • What worked? Why? What challenges did you face?
  • How can these concepts be applied somewhere else?
  • How is your design unique?
  • How and when do you see these concepts in day-to-day life?
  • Where can you apply these concepts to improve something you are doing?
  • What other materials could have been used? Will they work?
  • Note: Take photos and explanations from students. Ask them to make posters/ diagrams etc to explain what they learned


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