Tinkering with Circuits Station Guide

This is a guide for teachers to set up circuit stations. Each station takes between 8-10 minutes to complete! The goal is for this whole activity to take about 45 minutes. Feel free pick and choose stations. This is a great way to start a unit on circuits, but it is an even better way to end a unit on circuits. Tinkering and playing with circuits allows students to synthesize their learning!

Station One: Create a Paper Circuit

Use the attached template to create a simple circuit. Supplies for this station per student:

  • Simple Circuit Template
  • Copper Tape
  • 3V Battery
  • LED

Directions for template:

  • Place the copper tape on the template.
  • Bend the legs of your LED and place the longer leg (the positive leg) on the positive copper tape trace. Place the shorter leg on the negative tape trace.
  • Use regular tape or copper tape to hold the legs to the traces. Make sure that the positive trace and the negative trace never touch.
  • Place the battery positive side down on the template and fold the paper as indicated so the electrons can flow in a loop!

Troubleshooting tips:

  • Double check that the long leg is on the positive trace and the negative leg (short leg) is on the negative trace.
  • Make sure the battery is connecting to the positive side and the negative side.
  • Make sure when the paper is folded that the positive trace and negative trace do not touch.(Optional: Parallel Circuit, same directions, but see how many LEDS you can power!)

Download any template from this guide here

Station Two: Is it Conductive?

Supplies for this station:

  • A piece of cardboard with two pieces of conductive tape (Attach to EARTH and Space on Makey Makey)
  • A ruler (It helps when testing materials, so you don't accidentally complete the circuit with your touch!)
  • Conductive and non conductive items for testing
  • Print or Create a chart in your Science journal
  • Makey Makey
  • Laptop with  Scratch game loaded

Directions:Test items for conductivity and record your findings on the "Is it Conductive?" T-chart.

Download any template from this guide here

Station Three: Make a Paper Switch

Supplies for this station per student:

  • Foil sheets
  • Gluestick
  • Construction paper
  • 2 Makey Makeys
  • Placemats Printed out for students (1-2 for the table)
  • Two laptops open to Scratch.

Follow the pictures to make your own switch. Connect it to Scratch and make sounds with your new push button switch. Take your switch to the next station!

Download any template from this guide here


Make Office Supply Switches

Supplies for this station per student:

  • Cardboard square for switch base
  • 2X brass fasteners
  • Paperclip
  • 2 X binder clips
  • Students can share Makey Makey or each student could use their own.

Follow the images to create your own office supply momentary switch and maintained switch, then attach to Makey Makey to see how they work.

Download any template from this guide here

    Station Four: Control an LED with Makey Makey!

    Use the switch you made in station three with your simple circuit. You can power the simple circuit from station one, or you can use the attached template.

    Follow the video instructions to hook Makey Makey to your circuit!

    Ohm Resistors 

    You will need an ohm resistor in your Makey Makey circuit so you don't blow out the LED. To figure out what ohm resistor you need, you have to use Ohm’s Law. That formula is V = I × R, where V is the voltage, I is the current, and R is the resistance.

    Check out this table from Evil Mad Scientist.

    Makey Makey output is between 4.5 - 5V, so for a Blue, Green, White, or UV LED, you will want to use a 48 ohm resistor. 

    If you are using a Red, Yellow, or Yellow-Green LED, you will want a 36 Ohm resistor.

    Collaborative LED Parallel Circuit Art

    This station is inspired by the Lighthouse Creativity Lab in Oakland. They did a similar activity with their students.

    Supplies for this station:

    • Four posters each with a battery, positive trace and a negative trace
    • Various colored construction paper to make LED-art
    • Scissors
    • Gluesticks
    • LEDs
    • Thumbtacks

    Use the construction paper to make your own art and use an LED to add your work to this collaborative circuit. A thumbtack can be used to poke holes in the foam core, and then you can place your LED into the circuit! Check polarity and make sure your LED shines before heading to the next station.

    After all the art work is done, you can take off the battery pack and power this whole circuit with Makey Makey. (The same way you did with the Makey Makey Circuit templates above!) 


    Time Investment
    Up to 1 hour
    Pre-K - 12+


    • Makey Makey
    • Copper tape
    • LEDS
    • Ohm Resistor
    • foil
    • construction paper
    • index cards
    • murals
    • glue sticks

    EDU Standards



    Download PDF copy of this Guide



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