My kids love building things and making things. A few months ago, we were sent a kit from Creation Crate where you were able to program and build a mood lamp using real breadboards, circuits, and wires. The project itself is a bit challenging (probably best for teens), but Monkey was able to get it to work with a little help from me and it was a fascinating STEM activity.
We’ve had the lights sitting around ever since and I thought it would also be fun to use the lights for a Christmas project.
This activity is one of our favorite technology activities for kids!
Engineering Project Ideas: Light Up a Christmas Tree
This light-up Christmas tree project is fun for older kids and if you are doing it with younger kids, skip the breadboard and just use a string of Christmas lights like we used to supplement our programmed lights.
What you’ll need to make a programmable light-up Christmas tree:
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First, cut out your felt Christmas tree. We drew three small triangles onto a piece of felt folded in half and cut them out (similar to how we designed our Christmas tree for our dot-marker Christmas tree).
Next, cut little holes in the tree where you want the lights to poke through.
Set up your breadboard according to the Creation Crate directions. We had a bit of trouble with the programming, but we eventually got it to work. The programming is definitely the trickiest part. If you are doing this with younger kids, skip this part.
Push each individual light through the holes in the felt tree from the back. You’ll want to hide your wires as much as possible. Obviously, your breadboard and the battery pack for the light strand will stick out, but this is an engineering project, not an art project.
When Monkey saw how complicated the coding was for our mood lamp, she appreciated the settings on our string of lights a whole lot more. We were both impressed at how much programming goes into making a string of lights blink and dim.
Our mood lamp lights were programmed to get brighter the darker the room got, but the string of lights were not programmed to dim with natural light. Instead, they had three switches allowing them to shine steadily, blink, or dim and brighten intermittently.
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