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Name of Activity

Tiny Homes – Continue Circuit Building




tiny homes, sustainability, electricity, circuits, snap circuits, building, design


Building/EDP, Electricity & Magnetism

Grade Level

5, 6, 7


1 Hour

Brief Description

Introduce snap circuit kits. Teach parallel and series circuits and have students practice with the snap circuits.

Learning Goals:

Students will work in groups to further their understanding of circuits with the snap circuit kits. Students will see firsthand the effects of using parallel and series circuits.


snap circuit kits


Put students in groups of 3-4 (doesn’t have to be the same group as for tiny homes), snap circuit kit for each group (each kit should have batteries, a light, a fan, a switch and enough connectors)

Knowledge Background

Teacher should have the students in groups when you arrive, ideally teacher has some knowledge of electricity and renewable energy


  1. Recap what students learned the week before with squishy circuits.
    1. Discuss the concepts of open and closed circuits, electron flow, positive and negative charges.
  2. Teach parallel and series circuits. This can be done by drawing the circuits on the board and having students explain or act out where the electrons will go.
    1. Show how if a light goes out (or the circuit breaks) in a series circuit the whole circuit will go down, but in a parallel circuit the other components will be OK.
    2. Demo how a switch works by turning the classroom lights on and off
  3. Hand out snap circuit kits.
  4. Give students about half of the remaining time to play and familiarize themselves with the kits.
  5. When all of the groups are reasonably comfortable with the kits give them small challenges. For instance ask them to change what they’ve built from a parallel to series circuit or vice versa.
    1. Take a break to explain how parallel circuits are more robust if a component burns out. One way to do this is by drawing a parallel circuit on the board and have them explain what happens when you erase different parts of it.
  6. As you wrap up tell students to start thinking about how to implement circuits in their tiny homes.

Previous Activity (if applicable)

Squishy Circuits

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Tiny Homes and Energy Resources

Name of Activity

Living in Material World


Eleanor Richard Eva Philip


Materials, Sturdy Structures, Preparation for Project



Grade Level

K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Less than 1 Hour, 1 Hour

Brief Description

In this activity explores the importance of materials in engineering and allows students to generate their own knowledge about what materials they should use for what purposes.

Learning Goals:

– Understand that different materials are useful for different purposes

– Explore how the type of material affects how and for what purpose a project functions

– See one object from multiple perspectives by determining both deficits and positives of the same object

– Test and explore multiple materials

– Determine what the goals of your project are and what the best materials are to fit those goals

– Collect information from a test

– Make conclusion based on data

– Use information and data gathered in a test to inform a design

– Make a design and plan for a future project consider which materials are best suited


– tape (duck, masking, scotch) – string

– straws (paper or plastic)

– tooth picks

– Popsicle sticks – glue

– spaghetti

– pipe clears

– cardboard

– paperclips

– paper

– foam core (poster board) – wooden dowels

– plastic utensils – coffee filters

– yarn

– q-tips

– paper cups

– plastic cups

– styrofoam cups – felt fabric

– cotton balls

– scissors


Copy the work for the class

Gather all the materials needed

Knowledge Background

Importance of Materials:


– Introduced the idea of materials.  Sometimes you have a budget for a product so you can’t have the most ideal materials.  Discuss how all materials have strengths and weaknesses and deciding on your materials for a project is a balance.

– The classroom split into groups and each group was given a worksheet.  They were required to take 5 of the materials from a table in the back and record their strengths and weaknesses.  Every group had to create their own physical test for at least one material (i.e. baring, elasticity) and explain the how they went about their test.

– The groups then used their knowledge from their observations to design a first sketch of their model house.

– The classroom came together at the end and individuals shared the strengths and weakness of some materials and how they came to that conclusion.



This can activity is a great preparation for any bigger project, and always students to plan and design with more thought and consideration.

Reference 1

Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Smart Houses

Tufts Student Teacher Outreach Mentorship Program • 200 Boston Ave. • Suite G810 • Medford, MA • 617-627-5888

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