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Paper Circuit Mosaics

This past week, the kids of La Escuelita made this:

Cool, right? Here's how it was made.

First, make two tracks of copper tape. These will be your positive and negative poles. Find some way to tell the difference; we outlined our negative pole in green masking tape. This is the base of your mosaic.

Next, attach a battery pack to the bottom of the mosaic. This is your power source. Strip the wires of the battery pack a little to get a good connection, then tape the wires down onto the copper tape. Make sure you don't switch up the positive (red) and negative (black) wires!

Then, test what you've done so far. Power should be flowing through the whole mosaic. Take an LED and attach the leads to the copper tape tracks. If it lights up, go around the next corner. If it doesn't, find the break in your circuit. Are your batteries dead? Did your copper tape break? Are the LED leads attached to the correct poles, or do you need to flip it around? Troubleshoot a little now; it'll save you a lot of frustration later.

Finally, it's time for the ornaments. This is the part we did with kids. We let them make any kind of ornament they wanted, with one caviat: it needed to light up if attached to the mosaic. We provided them with paper, markers, scotch tape, scissors, sequins, LEDs, and copper tape.

After that, just stick the ornaments on to complete the mosaic!

The secret trick is making sure the LEDs have a strong connection to the copper tape on the mosaic. This usually involves extending the leads' reach with copper tape on the ornament itself, as pictured below.

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