March 5, 2015
Robots, Circuits, LEDs, and 3D Pinting| Classroom Project
When I was teaching circuits last year I had my class draw and water color robots. We then used a solar panel that we took out of old calculators, conductive paint, and an LED to make a simple circuit on top of the design. We liked the outcome so much that we decided to make smaller versions to send home as Valentine’s for their parents.
The students did a fantastic job, but we ran into some issues. The conductive paint was challenging to work with. It was messy, and if we didn’t use just the right amount it shorted out our circuit by connecting the positive and negative side of the battery. As the paint dried it would crack and sometimes lose connectivity.
I liked the project and wanted to do it again this year, but I knew I would have to make some improvements. We are all out of old calculators so small solar panels will have to be replaced with a battery to power the circuit. This presents a small problem where 3D printing can really help out. We needed a way to mount the battery, and a switch would be nice too.
A quick search on Thingiverse.com gave us exactly what we needed. A mini flashlight that we could download and use to mount our batteries. If I had more time I would have liked my students to design their own, but we have enough other projects going on that we needed a quick a fix. This would really be a great starter project for a class with a 3D printer given how quickly these little flashlights printed. It didn’t take long at all to have enough for the entire class.
Once those were printed we glued them down on the robots that the students had drawn and painted and we are all set to finish the circuits. At this point I am waiting for a shipment of coin batteries so that we can get to making the circuits, but I am really excited about how these are coming along. They are going to make my classroom very bright.