Creative Child

DIY STEAM project: Illuminate Art With LED Lights

by Deborah Song

Light up your child’s artwork by circuiting LED lights using conductive materials. This innovative project will have your child wearing her artistic and engineering hat all at once. The brainchild of Galileo, the STEM camp that encourages innovation, this DIY project is simple enough to do right on your dining room table and doesn’t require a ton of materials. If done right, it might illuminate more than your child’s art. It might spark a light bulb in your child’s head.


What You Need:

- 1 piece of 8 1/2 x 11 cardstock

- Markers or colored pencils

- Scissors

- 1 small binder clip

- Copper tape

- 3 volt coin-cell battery

- LEDs

- Conductive thread

- Clear tape

* The red, green, orange or yellow LEDs will utilize less battery than the blue and white LEDs, which requrire a higher voltage battery.


  • Create the artwork. Using color pencils, crayons, markers or even paint, have your child draw and color her artwork. Deciding what to draw is one thing but asking your child to imagine what part of the art she wants lit up requires more imagination.


  • Make a negative battery plate. Flip the drawing over and measure a piece of copper tape a little more than halfway along the edge of the back of your card. Cut the tape, peel off the backing and stick it down.
  • Add a battery. Place your coin-cell battery on top of the copper plate, in the center of the paper. Place the battery right side up so the bottom negative side is touching the strip of the copper tape. Draw a ( – ) sign below the tape to indicate which side is negative.


  • Make a positive battery plate. Measure another piece of copper tape from the other side of your card, long enough to overlap the top of the coin battery, but short enough not to touch the negative side of the tape. Cut the tape, peel off the backing and carefully stick it down on the paper first, then overlap on tope of the coin battery. Draw a ( + ) sign to indicate which side is positive.


  • Test your plates.  Each LED light will have two wire leads sticking out. The longer lead is positive, and the shorter lead negative. Spread the leads out and make sure the positive longer lead is touching the positive strip of copper tape and the negative shorter lead is touching the negative lead. The LED should light up.


(If it doesn’t light up the first try, don’t fret! Testing your plate and redesigning them as needed to make your LED light up is an essential part of becoming an innovator. Check to make sure both sides of the battery are touching the shiny, conductive side of the copper tape, and make sure the negative and positive strips aren’t touching each other. Shift the LED leads around.)

  • Punch a hole for your LED. Decide where the LED light should go and choose the LED color. Insert the LED through the punctured hole. Flip the drawing over and spread the LED leads to hold the LED in place.


  • Connect the LED leads to your plates. Measure out two pieces of conductive thread, long enough to wrap the thread around the LED lead multiple times. One piece of thread will be used as the “positive” thread to connect the positive plate to the positive LED lead, and the other piece will be the “negative” thread for connecting the negative plate to the negative LED lead.


To ensure good connection, wrap the thread around the LEAD lead a few times for both the positive and negative side. Then tape the thread and lead down on the paper. Do this for both the positive and negative side.

Hold each thread to its corresponding battery plate and make sure the lights turn on. Once you’ve confirmed your LED lights up, use scotch tape to secure the threads to each plate. Completely cover each thread separately with tape if you plan to use more than one LED light so that even if the threads criss-cross, they won’t touch teach other.

  • Add more LEDs. If you would like to have more than one LED displayed on your artwork, repeat steps 6 and 7.
  • Display artwork. The lit artwork can be hung and even used as a nightlight. These also make great cards and gifts that will be sure to illuminate a special person’s day.

Deborah Song , gezginlerin kolay, verimli ve ??k bir ?ekilde yolculuk yapmas?na yard?mc? olan seyahat aksesuarlar? üretmeye kendini adam??, zulüm içermeyen bir ?irket olan'un kurucusudur  . Çocuklar?yla birlikte iyi yemek, daha geni? ya?am perspektifleri ve harika macera hikayeleri pe?inde dünyay? dola?may? seviyor. Deborah, Kanada do?umlu, anne giri?imci ve Los Angeles'ta ya?ayan bir yazard?r ve yüksek lisans?n? New York Üniversitesi'nden gazetecilik alan?nda alm??t?r. Seyahat hikayelerini adresinde bulabilirsiniz  .

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