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Whether you are looking for an activity for your students, for a professional learning workshop, or even something to do with your kids at home, cardboard circuits are a fun and low-cost activity for anyone! Here are a few tips, tricks and ideas to consider when setting up your cardboard circuit arcade:

  • Make a few power, input, and output tiles for participants to use before you start the activity.
  • Consider setting up two or more work stations. One might be dedicated to assembling new tiles while the other has completed tiles for connecting into circuits. A third station might be used for getting started, which would have just the pre-made tiles for making the simple circuit described in “Challenge #1” in this guide.
  • Allow participants to jump in to the challenge where they are comfortable. If they struggle with a challenge that is too difficult, they can always try a previous different prompt to refresh their understanding of some concepts.
  • checking a battery

    Test your batteries! If you are reusing batteries, make sure they all work before you begin, and don’t forget to re-check them if a circuit doesn’t work. A quick way to test a coin cell battery is to make an LED “throwie” by sandwiching the LED leads around the battery (long lead touching the positive side of the battery).

  • If supplies are limited, encourage participants to take apart some of their tiles after they are finished making circuits with them. Alternately have participants construct their complete circuits in groups with each group member responsible for creating one of the tiles.
  • Provide paper, sticky notes, or a shared document for participants to record their learnings and questions. Consider seeding this with some guiding questions or concepts to investigate.
  • If you plan to save the tiles for future activities, consider color-coding them or labelling by type: power, input, and output.
  • Take your circuit arcade to the next level by creating a take-apart station for old electronic toys and gadgets. You can harvest switches, rechargeable batteries or battery holders, and sometimes sensors, lights, or other input and output devices. Make sure you provide appropriate tools and safety guidelines!

Get more ideas from these resources that helped to inspire us as we created this guide: