Teaching Junior Electricity with Toys

Teach simple concepts about circuits while students make toys from spare parts...

These toys were made from electronic junk supplied by local repair shops. Old video recorders, cassette players, walkmans, etc, provided motors, lights and switches.

ALWAYS make battery powered toys, mains electricity from the wall plugs is dangerous!

Most of the toys below use a similar circuit; a battery, wires, a motor and/or a light. Students have built windmills, helicopters, lighthouses, cars, boats, planes, trucks, hypnotizing machines, paragliders, co-ordination testers, a town with lighting, and a model home with alarms.

  • PREDICT: Ask your students "How many different ways can a battery, a bulb and pieces of wire be connected?" "What happens if we connect a battery the other way around? What happes if we do the same things using a motor? or a LED?" ..."
  • OBSERVE: How the circuit behaves with a bulb or motor or LED and compare when the battery is connected the other way around..
  • EXPLAIN: What does this show us? (Seniors might like to consider different types of resistor networks and how they behave, eg, as sensors).



Enthusiastic and happy students at work involved with practical electricity investigations   An amazing model street with parallel and series circuits
Toys can provide authentic and fun learning experiences ...especially if students build their own   

These toys were made by the Form Four (Year 10) classes of 401 and 407 (1999) at NPBHS

Each toy had to have a circuit diagram explaining the use of parallel and series circuits

Students enjoyed 'homework' when it was practical and focused on real-life problem solving

Coordination tester


  1. A really big DALEK "robot" we built runs on 'C' size batteries..make one for your school!
  2. Make your own toys from spare parts...ask a grown-up for help!
  3. Build sensors to detect acidity, temperature, infra-red, conductivity, etc using very simple circuits
  4. Try the new PICAXE chips to make cyberpets and interactive toys!
  5. Read more about series and parallel circuits from Dick Smith project books.

RETURN TO FUN! Science Activities and Technology Projects


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