1st Grade Students Build Direct Current Circuits

December 17, 2014

First Grade LED Christmas CardsLeslie Sem, invited Tricia Finkle, Co-Director of the Vermont State Math & Science Fair, to engage in some science, art, and technology activities, with her first grade students. Both Leslie and Tricia feel it is never too early to begin preparing students for a successful Science Fair experience that they will participate in once they reach middle school.

With the help of some Creative Commons Grant funding, Tricia arrived at MCS with several boxes of materials including LED lights, batteries, copper foil, and soldering equipment. The lessons she had planned focused on creating two kinds of DC circuits: LED lights and electric motors.
To keep the lesson timely, Tricia and Leslie centered the first learning experience on designing LED pop-up Christmas cards that the children would give to their parents. These cards would feature pop-ups, and light up when the card is opened.

Within an hour, students had designed their card and completed it with a functional circuit. Pop-up pictures included Christmas trees with a glowing star, Rudolph with a very prominent red nose, fireplaces with brightly burning logs, and snow wo/men with sparkling eyes. Some cards featured back-lit scenes of snow covered pine trees, a dancing ballerina, and piles of wrapped gifts. Both teachers and students were thrilled as each completed card lighted appropriately as it was opened.

Tricia will be returning to Mater Christi School in January to teach the first graders how to use science and technology to build Jitterbots, that move on their own with circuits using motors and batteries. Students will use the engineering process to design, build and test their own Jitterbots, and will be able to take them home to continue testing and improving them.

By the time these students are ready to work on a “real” science fair project, Tricia and Leslie are convinced they will have already figured out the basics of what works, how it works, and will be ready to challenge themselves to delve a little deeper into the world of science and technology.

Sister Joanne LaFreniere, RSM
Director of Public Relations and Spiritual Life