Happy City is a design activity exploring circuits, conductivity and community. Kids add things to a city model to make it a happier place, using LEDs, batteries and motors (optional) to make their creations do something. Since the kids decide for themselves what would make the city a happy place, they become invested in what they’re making and how it will work. This kind of problem-defining and problem-solving is at the heart of engineering design. The activity can inspire great conversations about electricity or community.
Electricity and Magnetism
LEDs, assorted colors, 4–6 per person
3V coin cell batteries, 5 per person
Aluminum foil folded into wires, about 5 per person
Paper clips (especially helpful if you use motors)
Lightweight cardboard, such as cereal boxes, cut in strips
a wide variety of materials that can be cut, shaped and connected (index cards, straws and pipe cleaners work well. Other potentially useful materials are popsicle sticks, wire and felt.)
Large sheets of paper to make a city map
Note – While coin cell batteries are fine to handle with your hands, they are dangerous if swallowed or put in noses. So this activity should be done with children who are old enough to resist the temptation to put everything in their mouths.
electricity, circuits, energy, engineering, making, imagination, design, problem-solving, conductivity, real world problems
New York Hall of Science (NYSCI)