STEAM Lab for Kids: Graphite Circuits STEAM | 28 February 2018 Share article facebook twitter google pinterest Create a work of art that conducts enough electricity to light an LED with this activity from STEAM Lab for Kids. Want to do an activity over Skype with author Liz Lee Heinecke? Enter to win our STEAM Lab for Kids pre-order giveaway here! SAFETY TIPS AND HINTS ? Adult supervision is required for this lab. ? School pencils will not work well for this lab. Soft graphite pencils and crayons can be found in art stores or ordered online. MATERIALS ? Printer paper ? 1 graphite pencil or crayon (softer is better; we used a #9B graphite crayon) ? 2 alligator clip test leads ? Several small LEDs ? 1 (9 volt) battery PROTOCOL 1. Gather your supplies. 2. On a piece of printer paper, draw a thick, black rectangle about 1/2 inch (1 cm) wide and 11/2 inches (4 cm) long using a graphite pencil or crayon. Color over it again and again until you create a solid layer of graphite. This lab won’t work if there are any spaces or gaps. 3. Connect one end of each alligator clip to one of a battery terminal. 4. Clip the other end of the alligator clip attached to the positive (+) battery terminal to the long leg of an LED bulb. 5. Touch the free wire of the LED bulb to the right side of the graphite bar you drew. 6. Touch the alligator clip attached to the negative (–) battery terminal to the left side of the graphite bar you drew. 7. Move the LED wire closer to the alligator clip to see what happens. The light should get brighter as you decrease the distance. Try not to touch the bulb directly to the clip. 8. If the bulb doesn’t light up, switch the positive alligator clip to the other leg of the LED bulb and try it again. If it still doesn’t work, make sure there are no gaps in the line you drew and then try a different LED. 9. Make some new drawings with the graphite pencil or crayon. Can the electrical current travel around corners or curves? What happens if you erase part of the drawing to create a gap? CREATIVE ENRICHMENT ? Use graphite to create a light-up comic strip or comic book with characters or features you can use as circuits to light LEDs. THE STEAM BEHIND THE FUN: Graphite is a crystalline form of carbon. Artists use it for drawing because it can be used to form everything from sharp lines to gorgeous smudges can be easily erased. Often used to make pencil lead, graphite is a special material called a conductor. Conductors are substances that electrical current can flow through. Some metals are conductors as well. Because graphite is a conductor, it can be used to create a circuit—a path for electrical current. Here, the solid graphite line you draw on paper—that thin layer of graphite you lay down—carries enough electrical charge to light a bulb. Buy from an Online Retailer US: UK: AU: STEAM Lab for Kids is an art-forward doorway to science, math, technology and engineering. While many aspiring artists don’t necessarily identify with STEM subjects, and many young inventors don’t see the need for art, one is essential to the other. Revealing this connection and encouraging kids to explore it fills hungry minds with tools essential to problem solving and creative thinking. Each of the projects in this book is designed to demonstrate that the deeper you look into art, the more engineering and math you’ll find. There’s a science to great art. From graphite circuit comic books to edible stained glass, young engineers and artists alike will find inspiration. Share article facebook twitter google pinterest If you have any comments on this article please contact us or get in touch via social media.