Electronics mini projects

Electronics mini projects are great for introducing circuits.

That's why I love them. They take a subject that is often scary and difficult and breaks it down into bite-sized pieces. I also like electronics mini projects because they often create something cool, with very little circuit building skills necessary. This opens the door for excited kids to step through and learn more through larger, more difficult projects.

If you are looking to do a bunch of electronics mini projects at home you will need a few supplies.

I've put together a curated list of parts you'll need into an Amazon shopping list.  Many of these items you can get at your local grocery or hardware store, but to compare, a single CR2032 battery will run you about $3 at the grocery store. You can get 100 for about $20 on Amazon. Why would you want 100?!? In my experience kids will want to keep making these electronics mini projects. You can easily make 5-10 LED cards in one sitting, and if you have more than one child those batteries will get used even faster.

The graphite and Elmer's glue, while a seemingly odd addition to the circuits supply list, is essential if your electronics mini projects include laying down copper tape as wires (which is incredibly common). You can mix together the glue and graphite to make conductive paint. This paint helps join pieces of copper tape together or with other circuit components, which can take a lot of frustration out of circuit creation.

Other items to think about, especially if you have done a lot of our electronics mini projects already, is the addition of simple switches or battery holders to make your projects look a little nicer or have a bit more functionality in the end.

Below we have 5 electronics mini projects for you to check out. 

They all are linked to their project blog post so you can review the project at night and spruce up on your circuit building knowledge. Don't for get to check out our electric circuit obstacle course, where kids turn into electrons and see what each circuit component does!

5 Electronics Mini Projects to try at home

  1. Conducting animals
  2. LED cards
  3. Squishy circuits
  4. LED ornaments
  5. LED light sabers

1. Conducting animals

I love this project because not only do kids get to learn circuit building as they create their light up animal. They also get to combine art as they decorate their animal and they then have a tool for future scientific investigations.

Once these conducting animals are finished they can go around the house sampling all sorts of tasty treats. Door knobs, toothbrushes, paper, silverware, keychains, and more. If an item that these animals nibble on is a conductor their nose will light up. If they nibble on an insulator their noses won't light up. When I make these in my camps and community classes I always like to put out a big bin of items they can investigate.

Want to do this project? Get your supplies on our curated Amazon list.

2. LED Cards

With our template wiring up a card that lights up at the press of the button is so much easier. It allows kids to learn about a simple circuit, troubleshoot, and create art for others at the same time. These are great at any time of the year - birthdays, holidays, anniversaries. Everyone will be thrilled to have a handmade card that also lights up, especially when it means the person who made it took the time to learn some basic circuitry. 

Want to do this project? Get your supplies on our curated Amazon list.

3. Squishy Circuits

This is one of my favorite electronics mini projects because it is so easy to set up, there is very little troubleshooting, and it combines various motor skills and art with the science. You don't even need wires for this project. You just need a 9V battery, a battery hat, and LED (or a few), and playdough. The playdough will act as the conducting wires, so you can make two balls of playdough to connect both the battery wires and the LED into. 

Once kids have figured out how to light up their LEDs you can make it a bit more interesting in two ways. First, you can ask kids if they can make a light up sculpture. Second, you can give the kids a new type of LED, an RGB LED. RGB LEDs have the ability to be three different colors, red, green, and blue depending on what leg is connected to the circuit. The RGB LED has four legs instead of two, one for the ground and one for each color.

What I love about the RGB LEDs is that you can actually color mix using the playdough circuits. If you connect the red and the blue you will get a hue in between. You can connect all three, you can add less or more playdough between the connections to vary the amount of each color to be mixed or even play a colorful symphony making the colors jump around! You can find the RGB LEDs and other circuit building items on our Amazon list!

4. LED Ornaments

These are a super simple basic circuit. In fact, all you really need to make this project, circuit-wise, is an LED and CR2032 battery, although it is easier if you also have copper tape on hand. In this electronics mini project, you learn about the responsible use of power tools as you saw and drill wood slices to decorate. You poke an LED through the drilled hole towards the front and connect it straight to the battery on the back side. THen you can bend the LED legs and battery down and glue it onto the wood slice to keep it secure. A simple piece of tape can hold the top leg down and act as a switch!

Want to do this project? Get your supplies on our curated Amazon list.

5. LED Light Sabers

There are a ton of tutorials out there to make lightsabers that utilize accelerometers to change the sound of the lightsaber based on its motion. These projects use breadboards, Arduino chips, accelerometers, jumper wires, and lots of other components. It is not for the faint of heart, or those looking for electronics mini projects. That doesn't mean, however, that you can't make your own simple LED light saber for kids to have a ton of fun with. 

These lightsabers use popsicle sticks, copper tape, an LED, CR2032 battery, and electrical tape. A glue stick or straw glued to the LED makes the saber portion of this lightsaber, and you can even add a fun button switch to be able to control it fairly easily. 

Want to do this project? Get your supplies on our curated Amazon list.