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Paper Circuits and the Mackinac Bridge


Paper Circuits easy, fun, and a great introduction to electricity and circuits. The best thing though about Paper Circuits is they are what I call a great Starter Activity. Starter Activities give students a baseline of knowledge on a concept that allows them to scaffold organically with knowledge and creativity.

While leading a camp for young girls at Kent State one summer, I introduced Paper Circuits. Originally, the plan was to spend approximately 45 minutes on the activity. However the girls decided they wanted to create a mock up of the Mackinac Bridge out of cardboard and light the bridge up. Then some of the girls wanted to create a car with headlights that would drive across the bridge. Fireflies of course were next, because it was summer and fireflies might be buzzing around the bridge at night.

This turned into a 2 day project and when parents came on the final day of the camp, they proudly displayed their Mackinac Bridge scene. There were some bumps along the road but they persevered! . The creativity was incredible, they were so proud, and learned so much along the way. And it provided an opportunity to incorporate Geography, Economics, and Transportation.

Give this Starter Activity a try in your Makerspace, Classroom or other setting and watch where it goes! Note: make sure you have

cardboard, duct tape, and of course copper tape, 3v batteries and those 5mm LED lights on hand.


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