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Steady Hand Game

Students explore the direct repercussions of conduction in this fun activity!

Objectives

  • Describe the components required to complete an electric circuit.

Materials

  • Per Group:
    wire cutters
    wire strippers

  • Per Student:
    paper plate
    1 Christmas tree mini-light
    bulb with wires attached, ends
    stripped of insulation
    2 brass paper fasteners
    short piece of insulated wire, 20 cm long
    long piece of insulated wire, 45 cm long with about 6 cm of insulation stripped from one end
    piece of bare copper wire, 18 gauge, about 45 cm long
    2 D-cell batteries
    small baggie or paper bag

Key Questions

  • Why does the bulb light up when the loop touches the wiggly shape?
  • Can you trace out the completed circuit with your finger?

What To Do

Preparation:

  1. Strip the ends of all the wires.
  2. Collect a set of materials for each student and place in a baggie.

Teacher Tips:

  • ​Prepare the copper wires by loosely looping the ends around a popsicle stick a few times.
  • ​Test out all the light bulbs beforehand to ensure they work.

Instructions:

  1. Pierce the light bulb’s wires through the paper plate so that the light sits up near the edge of the plate.
  2. Bend the bare copper wire into a wiggly shape. Pierce one end of the bare copper wire through the paper plate and stick it to the underside of the plate with tape. Attach the other end of the bare wire to the top of the plate with a brass paper fastener.
  3. On the underside of the plate, attach the short piece of insulated wire to the fastener.
  4. Bend the 6 cm stripped end of the long insulated wire into a loop around the wiggly shape of the bare wire. Attach the other end of this wire to the plate with a second brass fastener.
  5. On the underside of the plate, attach one wire from the mini-light to this second brass fastener.
  6. You should have two ends of wire coming out from under your cardboard. One is from the mini-light, the other connects to the wiggly shape. Attach these ends to the batteries on your circuit board.

  1. Test your game out. When the loop touches the wiggly shape, the light bulb should light up. If it doesn’t work, check all your connections carefully.
  2. Test how steady your friends’ hands are. Can you move the loop over the wiggles without lighting the bulb?

Extensions

  • Modify the design to use a buzzer instead of, or as well as, the light bulb.
  • A game called Operation works a lot like this steady hand game. Play the game, and then describe how you think it works. Carefully take the game apart to see how it is wired.