Christmas STEM Project for Middle School

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One of the areas I struggled with in college was circuits. It was all very confusing talk about voltage, current, resistors, power, and all the other electrical terms. The mystery behind circuits continued in my career, until I met an electrical engineer who was able to equate electrical circuits to water flow. Since then I’ve been able to visualize what is going on in simple circuits, and trouble-shoot them better. I’ve also made a simple circuit with my oldest son, to make a card for his teacher. Now that he is almost in middle school, I thought he would be ready for a more complicated circuit. Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about circuits! With all the beautiful light displays, and houses decorate with lights, Christmas already peaks kids’ interest in circuits. Lights on a Christmas tree provide a great real life example of circuits, and how adding lights affect a circuit. After freshening up on my circuits from college, I created this fun Christmas STEM project for middle school!

The perfect Christmas middle school STEM project! Light up a paper Christmas tree using paper circuits.

Christmas Tree Lights STEM Project for Middle School

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Christmas Middle School STEM Project

Make a Series Circuit

Step 1: Fold the green construction paper into fourths.

Step 2: Unfold the construction paper, and cut along the lines to make four equal pieces of paper.

Step 3: Draw a Christmas tree on one of the pieces of green construction paper, and cut the tree out.

We are now going to make a parallel circuit.

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Make a Parallel Circuit

Step 4p: Using the copper take, make a parallel circuit, as shown in the picture below:

1. All long runs of copper tape are to be one piece. The Chibitronics Starter kit gives great tips for working with copper tape. **Remember to take off the white backing off the copper tape. Otherwise the copper tape will not stick to the paper tree!**
2. Make a long tail at the end of the circuit. The tail must be long enough to reach the top of the tree.

Step 5p: Add the sticker lights to the circuit.
Tip: Make sure the sticker lights are arranged exacty as shown in the picture below:

Tip: Make sure both the top and bottom of the light sticker are touching the copper tape.

Step 6p: Add the lithium battery to the circuit. Make sure the positive side of the battery is facing down, and touching the beginning of the circuit.

Step 7p: Now its time to complete the circuit, and turn the lights on! Place the end of the circuit on the negative side of the battery (top side of battery). The lights should all turn on!

Tip: If lights do not turn on, make sure the top and botton of the light stickers are touching the copper tape.

Step 8: Cut out a small star, and tape it to the top of the battery!

You have just added lights to your Christmas tree using a parrallel circuit!

We had so much fun making our paper circuit Christmas tree lights! We experimented with adding more batteries, and trying to make our circuit blink. In order to make our circuit work, we also did quite a lot of experimenting, and made several discoveries about circuits. Watch out for another post coming soon on our experiments!

Some other posts for more Middle School STEM ideas!

Make a Light up Card with a Simple Circuit!
Building Electrical Circuits and Playing with Light
15 Middle School STEM Projects
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The Science Behind Melting Crayons
Rainbow Crayon – a Crayon Melting Point Experiment
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