Snap Circuits provides excellent interactive lessons in creating electrical circuits through a balance of guided instruction and experimentation. By following the manual’s clear illustrations and easy-to-follow directions, little engineers use hands-on activities to gaining a valuable understanding of how electrical circuits work. The kit itself includes projects using a sound-activated switch, a musical doorbell, a lamp, a “flying saucer” and a siren.
Having completed the multiple projects outlined in the instruction manual, we decided to experiment and build upon some of the circuits. The “flying saucer” circuit is the favorite here – after assembling a circuit that operates a fan, when the switch is shut off abruptly, the fan flies in the air! Adding the included attachment (shown below) to the fan shows how motion blends segments of color into continuous lines, creating the illusion of complete circles.
Building upon this concept, we created a “spin art machine” using the completed circuit and the fan attachment. After building and testing the circuit, we traced a circle on card stock slightly larger than the fan attachment. We then cut out the circle as close to “perfect” as possible and used this as a template to make sure it fit the fan properly. (A template makes quickly tracing and cutting more circles relatively easy.) Using a piece double sided tape, we firmly attached the paper to the top of the fan, keeping it as centered as possible. The paper needs to be centered and balanced for this to work otherwise the fan will wobble making spin art difficult and frustrating!
With a variety of markers within arm’s reach, we turned on the circuit (with our paper circle firmly attached on top) and watched the disk begin to spin. Using one color at a time, the we made steady marks on the spinning disk, working from the center outward. The kids enjoyed watching their circles form and creating a variety of color patterns while experimenting with pen weight and the speed of the pen movement from center to outer edge.
Having completed multiple spin art circles, we were left wondering what to do with all of them! As Spring is right around the corner, we chose to create mixed-media flower gardens using their favorite circles as the colorful flowers. Strips of cardboard and flattened cardboard tubes made printing bright green stems and leaves simple and fun.