Building Circuit Boards with LEAP

BY AMANDA MOSES

This month, the Spring Creek Afterschool Program has partnered with LEAP to provide an arts-based afterschool program that teaches English language arts, math, science and social studies. This 10-week program will expose children to a different way to problem solving, resolution, exploration and idealization.
“I am here at the school teaching tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. We are empowering children through techniques used in engineering to problem solve in a different way and to approach life and their homework in a more productive fashion,” Leap instructor, Elizabeth Pasieczny said. Overall, the program’s goal is to have the students see a need in their community and a change they want to make, and they are going to invent a product or machine that will solve the problem.

During the Spring Creek Afterschool’s second session, Pasieczny taught her class the basics of how to build a circuit board, so that they will build a more complicated version in their next lesson.

Pasieczny smiled brightly at her students and posed the question, “What is electricity?” Many of the children called out a variety of answers, some stating that it’s what powers their smart phones and tablets, while others said it turns on the lights. Pleased with their response, Pasieczny continued to pose more questions, “Can we see electricity?”

One child asked, “Well, isn’t lightning electricity? So, if it is then we can see the
flash of light.”

Pasieczny was impressed with their observations and went on to explain that sometimes we can see a spark from an outlet, but normally we cannot see electricity because it flows through copper wires. She then told the class that they will be creating a basic circuit board, which will connect electrical components using conductive tracks.

“Electricity is basically energy from charged electrons and protons. Have you ever notice that something that takes batteries has positive and negative signs on them? Well that’s the signal for a positive and negative charge,” Pasieczny said.

Each student was given colored construction paper, electrical tape, aluminum foil, a battery, and a tiny LED light. “We are going to take the aluminum foil and create a path for the electricity to run using the battery and a positive and negative charge,” Pasieczny said.

The children excitedly got to work creating various shapes, like hearts, circles and a V-shape, to form their circuit board’s signal routes. While working on this project, a few students discovered that the LED light lit up when placed directly onto the battery. Jaylan Camacho threw both his fists in the air as he jumped for joy when his circuit board successfully lit up. “I did it, it works! I’m proud of myself because I created a circuit board that I didn’t’ even know, I could do. This is so cool, I want to take this home and show my family,” Camacho said.

Photos by Amanda Moses