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Your First Scrappy Circuit

10-30 min


Ages 8+

What Will You Learn?​

Every Scrappy Circuit needs to include at least two things: A Battery Brick (or alternate Power Brick) and an Action Brick. The Battery Brick and LED Brick are part of the five Core Bricks because each circuit needs a power source and a load or Action Brick to perform a task. We’ll use our Core Bricks to make simple circuits.

Build the Circuit

The first circuit you should make is going to be simple—light the LED Brick with no switches. Gather two alligator clips, the Battery Brick, and the LED Brick to make a circuit. It is important to remember that electricity needs to travel in a circuit, which means it needs to leave the Battery Brick and then return to the Battery Brick. Connect the positive (+) side of the Battery Brick to the positive (+) side of your LED Brick. Next connect the two remaining negative sides (–) to illuminate your LED

If your LED doesn’t light up, it is possible that your positive (+) and negative (–) sides are mixed up. Try disconnecting the LED Brick and reconnecting in the opposite way. Another common barrier to working is the connection between the binder clips and the LED. You might need to sand the mouth of your binder clips, add some aluminum foil, and squeeze your binder clips closed with your hands. If your LED is still not illuminated, or is very dim, try removing your alligator clips and then holding them right against the leg of your LED.
If this works, reassemble one binder clip at a time. Find the problematic clip and sand more, add more aluminum foil and give it an extra–loving squeeze—sometimes we all just need a hug. Keep repeating until this works.

Maker Camp Live! - Scrappy Circuits Operation Game Brick

What's Next?

This Scrappy Circuits Zine is a free abbreviated preview of the Scrappy Circuits book for Kickstarter backers. 

The Zine has five starter projects you can try now! All of these Scrappy Circuit projects use the five Core Bricks: one light, one battery, and three switches. Similar to how a few chords can be rearranged to create many different songs, these five bricks can be used to create numerous amazing projects, much more than the ones listed here. The missing piece is your creativity. Use these projects as inspirations and get those creative juices flowing to invent other projects.

The projects in the Zine include:

  • Morse Code
  • Push Alarm
  • Falling Target
  • Superhero Signal
  • Light Up Picture

So download the PDF and get building!

Michael June 17, 2021
Scrappy Circuits breaks down the many barriers to teaching and learning invention literacy like pre-requisite skills, cost, and access. It is a modular system of bricks built by the learner and sourced from commonly found objects. Binder clips act as terminals for electricity to travel through each brick and can be connected using alligator clips or homemade Scrappy Clips. The first five Scrappy Circuits bricks, known as the Core Bricks, can be constructed for around a dollar out of some office supplies, an LED tea-light, and an imagination. Larger groups can build these for around twenty dollars and each learner will be able to keep their bricks and continue to explore and invent. The learning doesn't stop there! The Scrappy Circuits journey can continue with many more bricks and projects all made out of common and inexpensive items.