# Paper Circuit Pumpkin STEAM Engineering Activity

This paper circuit pumpkin Halloween STEAM activity is a great way to learn about simple circuits and parallel circuits and then apply that circuitry knowledge with some artistic flair to make pumpkin paper circuits!

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## It’s Not Magic, It’s Pumpkin Paper Circuits!

My girls are super artistic. I love trying STEAM activities that incorporate their artistic side to teach them scientific concepts.

## What is a Paper Circuit?

A circuit is essentially a loop that electricity can flow through. A paper circuit is a low-voltage electrical circuit made on paper with materials such as copper tape, LEDs, and coin-cell batteries. Electricity flows around the circuit from a higher voltage (+) to a lower voltage (-).

An LED, light-emitting diode, is a tiny lightbulb that requires less power to light. LEDs are diodes, which means that an electrical current will only flow in one direction.

When there is no current flow, the LED does not light up. It’s important to understand what side (called a lead) of the LED is positive and what side is negative in order to make a circuit.

The positive lead of the LED is called the anode and the negative lead of the LED is called the cathode. The anode is longer than the cathode as shown below.

## How to Make a Simple Circuit

### Make a Square with Copper Tape

To make our paper circuit, we made a square using copper tape. We could not get our circuit to work using the folded corner method, so we ended up cutting our copper tape at the corners instead of folding it.

Because the adhesive on copper tape is not conductive, we spent some time pushing our ends together to make sure electricity could flow through the tape.

Leave a gap in your copper tape where the batteries and the LED will be placed.

Use copper tape or scotch tape to place the leads for your LED. Make sure to place the anode (longer side) to the copper tape that connects to the positive side of your coin-cell battery and the cathode (shorter side) is connected to the copper tape stemming from the negative side of your coin-cell battery.

### Power the Circuit

We used two batteries and touched them together for our on/off switch in our simple circuit. We used one battery to power our parallel pumpkin paper circuits and it’s much easier to set your circuit up following the steps below.

If your LED doesn’t light up, check your leads to make sure you have them facing the right direction. You can also troubleshoot by flipping your battery.

## How to Make a Parallel Circuit

### Make a Simple Circuit

Print your pumpkins on cardstock and flip them over. You will work on the back of the paper.

Follow the steps for the simple circuit above. Make one leg of copper tape longer than your square and make sure to leave a gap to fold the tape over the battery without the copper tape ends touching.

You also want to make sure that your LEDs line up with the circles on the opposite side of the paper. To add more LEDs, you can cut a gap into your copper tape and continue to experiment further.

### Add a Parallel Line of Copper Tape

Add a parallel line of copper tape and leave a gap for your LED.

Use copper tape or scotch tape to place the leads for your LED. Make sure to place the anode (longer side) to the copper tape that connects to the positive side of your coin-cell battery and the cathode (shorter side) is connected to the copper tape stemming from the negative side of your coin-cell battery.

Poke your LED through the paper or cut a small hole if using card stock or cardboard.

### Cut Out the Pumpkin

Cut out your pumpkin. You can use a binder clip to hold the folded end in place and tape your pumpkin paper circuit to card stock or cardboard to stand up and display.

## Key Circuitry Terms To Discuss

Conductors: Conductors are materials electricity can flow easily through.

Circuit: A circuit is a circular path or loop that electricity can flow through that is made up of a source of electricity (like a battery), a conductive material (like copper tape), and an object that can be powered by electricity such as a light.

Insulators: Insulators are materials that electricity does not flow easily through.

Charge: Electrical charge is created by the movement of electrons.

Current: Current is the rate at which charge is flowing.

Voltage: Voltage is the measurement of electrical potential between two points on a circuit. The difference in the two points is called voltage.

Battery: A battery stores electricity. Different types of batteries provide different voltage and current.

## Things We Talked About While Making Our Pumpkin Paper Circuits

• What are conductive materials?
• What do you think are some other materials that we could use instead of copper tape?
• Can you show me how the charge is flowing through our circuit?
• Why do you think that the LED is not lighting up?
• What does a battery do?
• What does it mean if something is an insulator?

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## Tech Art Activities for Kids

Find more tech + art activities for kids!

## Meet Toni, the Maker Mom behind Our Family Code

Hey there, I’m Toni! I’m a software engineer and Maker Mom that finds my joy in unleashing my children’s curiosity by exploring STEAM concepts with my fantastic five!

When I’m not chasing toddlers or raising tweens, you can find me tearing things up and putting them back together over here at Our Family Code.

I am the owner and content creator of multiple educational websites designed to increase access to STEAM & STEM education with a focus on teaching computer science and coding to kids of all ages!

You can also find out more about me by visiting ToniGardner.com!

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CharlotteJones

Monday 10th of September 2018

This is an awesome! We love STEM activities in our homeschool and this one looks easy but also super rewarding. And yay for Halloween-themed activates too! :):)

Toni

Friday 7th of September 2018

We bought some electric paint to try out too! I love how easy it is to use!

Krystal Miller (@hhtfamilyblog)

Tuesday 4th of September 2018

What a fun idea. My son would love to try it! I've never seen anything like that copper tape before.

Jennifer

Monday 3rd of September 2018

Those are so cool I love them ! Not as hard as I would have thought

Toni

Monday 3rd of September 2018

It was really fun to do! I made some myself before I did it with the kiddos and I had fun all by myself lol!

Team Cartwright

Saturday 1st of September 2018

I am absolutely loving this!! I need to get some copper tape like that. What a perfect way to teach kids about circuits and make fun Halloween decorations!!!

Toni

Sunday 2nd of September 2018

It's such a fun project! My two year old even enjoyed seeing it light up. We also bought some electric paint and I'm excited to try that out next.

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