Lighting Up Lawrence

BY Janice Lewis

Lawrence School


Goals, objectives, and activities

The purpose of this grant is to purchase Squishy Circuit kits and circuitry supplies for our Grade 7 Engineering Program. These supplies will allow us to expand a short lesson on circuits into “Lighting Up Lawrence,” a more comprehensive, project-based learning experience.

Currently, students use Snap Circuit Kits for a brief electricity lesson. The kits consist of circuit components and diagrams showing how to build projects such as alarms and radios. Students often list Snap Circuits as a favorite activity. However, the kits are somewhat of a “black box” experience. Students can build complex creations by following the diagrams, even if they don’t fully understand circuits.

One goal of this grant is to give students a stronger foundation in electrical concepts by using Squishy Circuit Kits prior to using Snap Circuits. Squishy Circuits use play dough as “wires” to carry electricity for LEDs, buzzers, and motors. Used by educators and science museums around the country, they are a safe and creative way to introduce circuit basics before doing more complex Snap Circuit projects.

A second goal is for students to be able to use their new circuitry knowledge to solve real-life electrical problems. After building Squishy and Snap Circuits, each class will create a unique “town” of wired cardboard buildings. The buildings will have working lights, doorbells, fans, and other electrical components purchased through this grant. At the end of the unit, students will exhibit their projects at “Lighting Up Lawrence” displays and events around the building.


How will the project be evaluated (e.g. how will you gauge its success)


This project will be evaluated in two main ways. First, students will complete a variety of classroom assessments such as design challenges, quizzes, and project reports to gauge their understandings of circuitry and electronics. Currently, students at Lawrence show very basic levels of understanding about these topics. After participating in the new project-based unit, we expect that students will be able to answer higher-level thinking questions and meet more complex design challenges.

Students will also take part in ongoing End-of-Term Surveys, in which they report on their attitudes about the class as well as science, technology, and engineering. The surveys will be backed up by classroom observations and conversations with both students and parents. We currently see a high level of engagement in Lawrence School Engineering classes and would expect this to continue with the newest project.

Benefit to the students and the school

Approximately 180 students will benefit directly from this grant in 2013-2014. The supplies for this unit are reusable, so the project will happen three times in future years, impacting 270 seventh grade students annually.

The successful implementation of this project will result in high levels of understanding and engagement for Lawrence students. Squishy Circuits will help them develop a solid foundation in electrical engineering concepts. Then students will gain experience using science to solve authentic engineering challenges while wiring their display buildings. Both aspects of the unit will prepare students for future engineering and electrical work, such as in the robotics and ROV programs at Falmouth High School. Our “Lighting Up Lawrence” displays will also encourage the entire school community to celebrate and take pride in our learning.


Budget (Please detail how funding will be used. Itemize as appropriate.)

Circuit Hardware Kits @ 25.00 each = $350.00 * See the TED Talk by AnnMarie Thomas ( for a full description of Squishy Circuits.

Supplier: Home Science Tools * (30) Battery Holders @ 1.60 each = $48.00 * (30) Bulb Holders @ 0.80 each = $24.00 * (45) 3.7V Light Bulbs @ 0.60 each = $27.00 * (7) Buzzers @ 3.50 each = $24.50 * (3) 100′ Insulated Copper Wire @ 7.20 each = $21.60

Total: $495.10


Timeline of Project (when will you do the project, if applicable.)

Immediate: Curriculum planning and supply purchases

March and June 2014: Unit implementation for two seventh grade teams

Future Years: Projects each December, March, and June