Currently viewing the category: "Non-LEGO"


Name of Activity Alternative Energy With Snap Circuits
Author STOMP
Keywords energy, sources, snap circuits, batteries, cranks, mechanical, solar power
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 2-5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity students will explore snap circuits without the use of a snap circuit battery. Snap Circuits are great in that they come with other alternative sources of energy, such as the hand crank and solar panel. Students will use these new sources to explore series and parallel circuits.
Lesson Objectives: – Discuss energy and what it does
– Introduce students to other alternative sources of energy
– Explore the use of the mechanical crank and solar panels
– Review previous snap circuit lessons about: series and parallel circuits.
– Incorporate the mechanical crank and solar panels to old circuits (built last week) and new
– Have group and class discussions about specific circuits built
Materials Needed: Snap Circuit set (take out batteries)
Snap Circuit cranks (they break easily so remind classroom to be gentle)
Snap Circuit solar panels
extra snap circuit parts (wires, motors, lamps, resistors)
Preparation and Set Up: -Have a class discussion about sources of energy other than batteries
-Split up class into groups of two (groups of two ended up forming larger groups. For example when we did this lesson we ended up with a larger group focused on solar panels, another group focused on the crank, and a third group focused on a combination of both)
-Distribute snap circuit kits
Necessary Background -Parallel and Series Circuits
-Familiarity with Snap Circuit parts (new and old)
-How to write circuit diagrams (if you want your students to use them)
-Be able to discuss how power changes with how the solar panel and mechanical crank are used. For Example: more sun exposure or faster crank = quicker motors and brighter lamps (more power)
Procedure 1. Identify the problem: how do we build snap circuits without batteries?2. Discuss what the mechanical crank and solar panels do to provide power. Depending on the focus of your unit, you may also discuss climate change and why renewable resources are so important.

3. Have groups draw circuit diagrams  to brainstorm ideas, and make predictions of how the cranks and solar panels may differ from batteries.

4. Have groups decide on a few circuits to build.

5. Have groups build their circuits (incorporating cranks, solar panels, or both).

6. Test the circuit:

  • Have those with solar panels test near the window
  • Have those with cranks practice cranking (carefully since the cranks are delicate)

7. Have groups discuss:

  • What did these new tools do?
  • How did lamps, motors, or fans respond?
  • What is the electron flow in the circuit?

8. Have groups share with each other their circuits, integrate groups, have them build onto existing circuits or create new ones.  This part of the class was very open for exploration.

Modifications: Some groups began using found materials around the class to add onto the circuit. For example one group used tape to make a tower of fans powered by a solar panel.Open the circuit building to using other materials in the class room.
Previous Activity (if applicable)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)


Name of Activity Snap Circuits and Conductivity
Author STOMP
Keywords conductivity, snap circuits, electricity
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Using snap circuits and the idea of conductive and insulating materials, the students will design a circuit to test whether various household items are insulators or conductors.
Lesson Objectives: The goal of this lesson is to introduce/review conductivity. Students will also practice designing experiments and practice building circuits.
Materials Needed: Each group (2-3 students) should have:
9V battery
snap circuits kit with wires, battery holder, resistor, LED light and/or lightbulb
household items (straws, wood, rubber bands, pennies, paperclips, paper, play-doh, plastic… etc)
a piece of paper to collect data
Preparation and Set Up: Make sure all snap circuit kits have the materials needed for the class. Make sure they don’t have the motors that have the detachable red fans as those are super distracting!!
Necessary Background Teachers should be familiar with conductivity and can also help students design their experiments to test the materials.
  • While one person introduces the class, the other can distribute materials.
  • Before they start working, you should review what makes a good or bad conductor and why.
  • You can pretend that they are scientists trying to discover new materials for conducting electricity, or something similar – this is to get them to take down data and think about why certain materials conduct electricity.
  • Once the lesson is introduced, give them a couple minutes to discuss how they will test the conductivity of the different materials.
  • Let them see if they can think of a way, but if they seem really stuck, you can steer them towards building a circuit with a light build and replacing wire with the material they are testing, making sure the circuit is still closed.
  • Depending on whether the light bulb is in series or in parallel with the battery, the light bulb will either turn on or turn off when a good conductor is placed in the circuit.
Extensions: If students are done early, they can test other materials around the classroom. Another etension is to see if they can think of a way to rank the materials in order of conductivity.
Modifications: This activity can also be done with snap circuits.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Intro to Electricity and Circuits

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