March 4, 2019 by WittyLibrarian
Program Title: Week Seventy-Eight: Family Science: Magic Wands
Target Age Range: Families
Program Length: 60 minutes
Brief Description: Learn how to use the magic of electricity to make a light-up magic wand!
Coin Cell Battery packs
3V coin cell batteries
Brown electrical tape
Red and black alligator clips
Sharpies (metallic preferable)
Pre-cut black and red wire. Each participant will need one red wire and one black wire to help extend the length of the battery pack’s red and black wires, so that, combined, the wires will run the entire length of the chopstick. The battery pack’s wires are roughly 5.7 inches long, and our chopsticks were 9 inches long, so we cut our wire into 4 inch stripes.
Once the red and black wire is cut, use a wire stripper to remove about 2 centimeters of the wire’s insulation from each end of the cut wire pieces.
Optional: the battery pack’s wires come pre-stripped, but you may want to strip a bit more from the wire, as the pre-stripped area is small and could prove difficult for younger patrons to work with.
Prepare supply kits for each participant. The supply kits consist of a ziplock bag filled with the following:
- 1 Chopstick
- 1 red wire
- 1 black wire
- 1 LED light
- 1 battery pack
- 1 3V Coin Cell battery
- 1 set of instructions
- 1 scientific explanation
On the day of the program, set out on tables communal supplies:
- Brown electrical tape
- Red and black alligator clips
We also recommend keeping some extra supplies on hand, namely extra wire, LEDs, batteries, as well as a wire cutter/stripper, just in case.
This program was designed as a DIY event. All families were greeted at the door to the program room and given a bag of supplies and project instructions for the magic wand (1 wand per child). We included in the supply packet a scientific explanation handout so families could discuss and learn how simple circuits work. The families then worked at their own pace to create the magic wand, and were able to take as much time as they wanted and needed to complete the project.
Our project was adapted from Babble Dabble Do’s post Simple Electronics: How to Make a Magic Wand, and followed the original project closely, with instruction modifications made only to adapt the project to a library program setting.
The project ran smoothly; most participants had no trouble crafting their magic wands, and if they did encounter a problem, it was usually a case of either the battery being put in the pack backwards, or the copper prongs in the battery pack not touching fully.
What we would do differently:
This was a program that ran beautifully. The project was a big hit with all participants, and we’d recommend having a few extra supply kits on hand because many adults were gazing wistfully at the finished wands. We also wound up opening a second session for this project because the demand the waiting list for the first session was extraordinarily long.
Adaptation for older/younger audience:
This project would work well for a multitude of audiences. If the materials were pre-cut, this would be a good program for grades 4-6, as well as 6-8, with the scientific explanation as a talking point in the program rather than as a handout.
For a teen audience, we would recommend having the teens measure and cut their own wire, as well as strip the wire, too. As with the 4-6 and 6-8 grade groups, we recommend making the scientific explanation a discussion point rather than a handout.
Given how the adults gazed longingly at the magic wands, this program would be a fun adult program as well, with the same set up as the teen program, but minus the scientific explanation/discussion.
A special thanks to Babble Dabble Do for granting us permission to post our adapted instructions for the Magic Wands. We highly recommend their website; it is a great source for fun and engaging STEM projects! Thank you!