Name of Activity Building a Flashlight
Author STOMP
Keywords circuit, electricity, flashlight, build, switch
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are asked to create a flashlight using previous knowledge about electricity and circuits.
Lesson Objectives: -Introduce students to making circuits with real wires rather than Playdough, as in squishy circuits.
-Explain the importance of a switch (ie being able to open and close a circuit to turn a light or other object on or off)
Materials Needed: -D or 9V batteries
-Electrical wire
-Electrical tape
-Toilet paper rolls or other objects that can be used as the flashlight body
-Other items to make the flashlight more user-friendly?
Preparation and Set Up: -Collect materials
-Ensure each group will have two electrical wires, pre-cut and pre-stripped
Necessary Background Students should have been exposed to electricity and circuits previously. They should have explored the importance of circuits and particularly switches in circuits.
  1. Divide students into pairs or groups of 3-4.
  2. Distribute materials.
  3. Allow students to try to make their circuit work with little guidance at first.
  4. Encourage students to incorporate a switch into their design and to “package” the circuit such that it can be used as a flashlight.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism

Act Out Electricity!





Name of Activity Act Out Electricity!
Author Emily Taintor
Keywords electricity, interactive, act out, non-lego, 4-6, introduction to electricity, resistor, lamp, bulb, wire, battery, switch, 1 Hour Total
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are assigned to be a circuit element and act it out in a complete circuit.
Lesson Objectives: - Solidify the students’ understanding of electricity.
- Give the students a physical understanding of what different circuit elements do.
Materials Needed: - Attached materials.
Preparation and Set Up: - Split the students into small groups.
- Give each group a set of materials.
- Give each group a goal for their circuit so that they can set it up and act it out to show the rest of the class.
Necessary Background - Electricity terms:
– Resistor
– Battery
– Switch
– Lamp (Light Bulb)
– Motor
  1. Split the students up into groups.
  2. Assign each group a specific goal for a circuit.
  3. Let the students take time to plan out how they will act it out with the given resources.
  4. Have the students act out their circuit for the rest of the class.
Extensions: Add in more complex circuit elements, programming, or use of breadboards.
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/Materials.pdf
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Introduction to Electricity

NXT Trolly





Name of Activity NXT Trolly
Author Jay Clark
Keywords NXTs, cars, car, trolly, trollies, light sensor, loop, proximity sensor, sound sensor, threshold, switch
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students program their NXT cars to be trollies. The activity has three tasks.

(1) Using a light sensor, the trolly must follow the black tape loop that runs through the “town”

(2) Using a proximity sensor, the trolly must detect stations and stop for boarding.

(3) Using a sound sensor, the trolly must stop for townspeople whistling for the trolly.

Lesson Objectives: Programming with conditional loops and switches.
Determining and implementing multiple sensor thresholds.
Materials Needed: Pre-built NXT car and complete NXT kit.
Computers with Mindstorms NXT software.
Black tape for trolly track.
Boxes/Books/etc for trolly stations.
Extra LEGO people.
Preparation and Set Up: Set up a the trolly track with black tape in the classroom.
Place the trolly stations either all inside or all outside of the loop. (This is so the proximity sensor can be pointed to the right or left).
Necessary Background In order to follow a line, students will have to program their cars to repeatedly jump off and back on the line. In fact, they aren’t following the black line, but rather the line formed by the edge of the black tape and white floor. Students programs should consist of four blocks:
- Turn Right.
- Wait for Darker.
- Turn Left.
- Wait for Lighter.

Students will need to use a conditional loop or a switch to stop following the line at the station. A conditional loop will keep performing the line following functions until the distance threshold is breached. It will then move on to the next bit of code. A switch will make a decision about the program flow based on a sensor value.

Threshold – The sensor value that when breached, will trigger a wait for block or a conditional loop. (Some students have had a better time understanding it as a “benchmark”)

Switch – A program structure that makes a decision about which line of code to run next based on some criterion (time, sensor value, logic etc)

Procedure Introduction 10 minutes Review loops with the students and why they are useful in programs.

  • Loops allow us to repeat a set of commands that would otherwise be tedious to program over and over.

Sometimes loops should go on forever. Ask the students for examples they’ve done where loops go on forever. In more sophisticated programs, they should not. Ask if they can think of a situation in which you don’t want a program to go on forever. A conditional loop is a great way to end a loop exactly when you want it to end and move on to another task. Our brains use conditional loops all the time!

  •  When crossing the street, we look both ways. If its not safe, we do it again. We keep doing it until its safe, and then we cross the street.

Activity – 40 minutes If students haven’t done a line follower before, introduce the concepts using the line follower activity on the activities database. For the second task, students will have to use a conditional loop to look for the stations. After the loop, they should stop the car for 5 seconds. It’s important to note that you must drive past the station before you start looking for a new station. Therefore, there should be a loop with a counter on it, or another conditional loop to follow the line past the station before looking for the next one. For the third task, the students will have to use switches. First look at one of the sensors, say the sound sensor. If it detects a whistle, stop for five seconds, if not, look at the proximity sensor. If it detects a station, stop for five seconds. If not, continue following the line. Clean up/ Wrap up – 10 minutes

  • What was easiest? What was hardest?
  •  What would you have done differently?
  •  What were some good ideas you saw that other groups came up with?
Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/a1.jpg
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/b5.png

Wire Maze Challenge





Name of Activity Wire Maze Challenge
Author STOMP
Keywords Electrical Engineering, maze, loop, wire, current, switch, open circuit, closed circuit
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will be constructing a game made out of a simple circuit with a movable loop of wire that can be guided over a curved “maze” wire. The object of the game will be to guide the loop along the maze without touching the loop to the maze wire. If the student does touch the loop to the wire, the circuit will be complete, turning on the light bulb, and signaling the touch.
Lesson Objectives: - To teach students about electrical circuits.
- To teach students about electrical currents.
Materials Needed: Per Group:
- One 9V battery w/connection plate and attached wires.
- 24 inches of un-insulated wire (stripped insulated wire between 20 – 24 AWG should work).
- One 1-Watt light bulb w/ lamp base.
- One 24 inch length of insulated wire w/stripped ends.
- One 8 inch length insulated wire w/stripped ends.
- Electrical tape.
- Cardboard base (optional).
- Four alligator clips (optional).
- Popsicle stick or pencil.
Preparation and Set Up: - Show the first five slides of Powerpoint attached.
- Break the class into groups of two.
- Distribute worksheets and building materials.
Necessary Background Vocabulary:
Electrical current
Open circuit
Closed circuit
  1. Connect 1 wire of the battery connection plate to the light bulb using an 8 inch strip of wire.
  2. Attach a 24 inch length of insulated wire to the other side of the light bulb. The end of the wire not connected to the lamp should be stripped of insulation for the last three inches of its length.
  3. Curl the stripped end of the long wire into a small loop approximately ½” across.
  4. Using electrical tape, create a handle for the wire ring by fastening the remaining wire to the end of a pencil or popsicle stick.
  5. Using a 24 inch strip of wire without insulation, create a looping and bending “maze” that the ring will have to follow.
  6. Put one end of your maze through the wire loop on the end of the popsicle stick, and then tape both ends to the cardobard base so that the maze sticks up into the air.
  7. Use a gator clip to attach the other terminal of the battery connection plate to the end of the maze. Leave one end of the un-insulated maze taped to the table with nothing else connected to it. You should now see that when your loop touches the wire path the light bulb turns on!. See if you can guide the loop along the maze without touching the wire and turing on the light.
  8. Discuss with the class why the light bulb only goes on when the loop touches the wire.
Extensions or Modifications: If you finish with the wire maze with extra time remaining, try to figure out a way to add an additional loop to the maze. There are two different ways to wire this circuit – you can either have the light bulb turn on when either one of the loops touches the wire, or you can have it turn on only when both loops are touching the wire. Draw your new circuit below using the electrical engineering symbols on the previous page.

The diagrams below are two possible approaches to this extension.

Be careful not to connect the battery terminals together if there is no resistor in between
them! This creates what is known as a short circuit, and if left connected for too long will
quickly drain the battery.

Reference 1 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/maze1.png
Reference 2 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/maze2.png
Reference 3 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/maze3.doc
Reference 4 http://sites.tufts.edu/stompactivitydatabase/files/formidable/maze4.pdf

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