Lesson One: Craft a Simple Circuit

Learn how a simple circuit works so you can create your first circuit and light your first LED! You will learn how to craft a simple circuit, learn how Makey Makey works by completing a circuit, and learn how humans can connect to make a key press on your computer!

A Simple Circuit

 Makey Makey works by completing a circuit. So it is important you build one to understand how a circuit works!

A simple circuit flows in a loop. The electrons flow from the positive side of the battery, to the LED lighting it up, and back down to the negative side of the battery completing the loop and closing the circuit.

To craft your circuit, you need conductive material to help those electrons flow and light up your LED. When lighting an LED or a bulb it is also important to wire up your circuit with the correct polarity. If you hook up your LED incorrectly (say the positive side of the LED to the negative conductive trace) your LED will not light up.


Let's Craft a Circuit!

If you've never built a paper circuit, this lecture will walk you through crafting your first circuit! In the coding world, we like to say "Hello World!" with our first line of code. With paper circuits, we say "Hello Light!" Download the template and follow along. 

Troubleshooting Tips

It is important to note that electrons are lazy and if they find an easier way to close the loop, you will short your circuit and your LED won't light up! So this means if you are having trouble lighting an LED with this simple circuit template, you should check:

  • Does the positive circuit trace ever come in contact with the negative circuit trace? Make sure to leave a gap under your LED. (If your positive trace goes directly to your negative trace, then the electrons will not be forced THROUGH the LED. Think of this like cats and dogs fighting- you have to keep the two lines separated!)
  • Do the circuit traces accidentally touch where you've made your battery connections?
  • Is your LED wired correctly?

A Makey Makey Circuit

The great news is that when you Makey Makey a circuit, you don't have to worry about polarity and you only have to have two conductive items and something that bridges that circuit to make the circuit a closed path! For example: One person can hold an EARTH wire and another person can hold a KEY PRESS wire and when they fist bump, it will complete the circuit and activate the Makey Makey. Alternatively, if one person holds both wires, the loop will always be closed and the circuit always complete!




Head to the Next Lesson

Once you've crafted a circuit, it's time for Lesson Two: Hands on a Makey Makey.

Time Investment
10-15 min


EDU Standards

4-PS3-2 Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.


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