There are plenty of flashlights on the market – models you can shake, crank, twist and click – but making your own can be done with cardboard tubes and basic supplies.
Some materials bend light rays as they pass through them, creating interesting patterns of bright and dark areas. Others refract light and separate colors like magnifying glasses would do.
Let’s find out how to make a flashlight!
A flashlight can be an indispensable aid when the lights go out. From helping find items lost in closets or hallways to helping put out fires, flashlights are essential tools in the dark. Making your own is a fun project that teaches students about electricity as well as providing an opportunity to practice engineering skills.
Encourage your students to form teams and design flashlights together, engaging in open discussions and freely sharing their ideas with one another. Make it clear that no idea should be dismissed simply because it may not be practical; when finished, have each team draw its flashlight design on the Light Your Way Worksheet.
Have your students identify the parts of a flashlight, and explain their functions – for instance, switches are used to regulate electricity flow while batteries provide power for illumination.
Explain that current flows through metals and other conductive materials. With no barriers between the ends of a battery and conductors, current can quickly run its course and drain the battery or cause it to overheat if left uninterrupted by any load or resistance; to prevent this happening in a flashlight circuit this could mean attaching both positive and negative ends of a battery directly to a lightbulb that illuminates when turned on.
Use a utility knife to strip 1″ of insulation off both ends of a piece of copper wire and wrap one around the paper-towel tube near where your flashlight bulb resides, using electric tape as needed to secure its position.
On the market today are numerous flashlights – some that you shake to illuminate, others you twist or crank to power on and off and others with bells and whistles – but you can make your own to switch on and off with just a paper clip, some wire and two standard batteries.
Brainstorming: Have students in teams take part in open discussion to determine which materials will be needed to design and build their flashlight. Make sure all ideas are heard with respect, without criticism of ideas being discussed.
Make sure your students record the design ideas of their team on the Light Your Way Worksheet, including an initial circuit diagram. When finished, test their flashlight to ensure it works.
If your flashlight won’t switch on, have them review their circuit diagram and make any necessary modifications before testing their flashlight again. Repeat the process until they have created one that always turns on and off when they press their paperclip switch.
Create your own battery-powered flashlight using only a paper cup, paperclip and two alkaline batteries – for an inexpensive yet simple flashlight design with low-powered LED bulb that provides just enough illumination in dim rooms.
To create this flashlight, begin by cutting a hole in the bottom of a paper cup that can accommodate a standard D-cell battery and secure it with tape so it does not move inside. Wrap its positive leg with wire and connect it to one of the metal prongs on a paper clip – using this connection between brass tab ends as an on/off switch: when touching both brass tabs at once, the flashlight lights up; when removed from both brass tabs again, its light goes off again.
Paper cups make an adorable base for angel crafts. To help the paint adhere, prime it with white acrylic primer before applying tempera or poster paint in pastel shades; alternatively mix your own with some white and colored paint (for instance light pink could be achieved by mixing red paint into white paint).
Fold a piece of white paper in half and draw a pair of angel wings along its folded edge, cut along that outline, unfold it, and glue cotton to them for extra feathery effects.
Use a pencil to poke a hole in the center of a paper plate, insert a flameless tea light, and secure them both with tape. Place a paper clip between two brads as your power switch; when it touches, your flashlight turns on; when removed from them, it shuts off.
This project is ideal for reciting constellation stories aloud. Additionally, use the paper cup to explore how stars appear when clustered together on the wall. Encourage your child to come up with their own constellation tales using groups of stars seen there.
Make this holiday craft with your children: transform paper cups into an illuminated lighthouse! Your child will delight in switching on its light and imagining it guiding ships away from potentially dangerous rocks. Add extra festivity by painting wide red stripes on its exterior walls!
Make Your Own Light Switch
Assemble two popsicle sticks. Apply copper tape (or tin foil), making sure that it covers the twisted wire and almost reaches to its end point; leaving about 13 millimeters (0.51 inches). Flip one over, repeat, making sure both pieces don’t touch each other.
Next, open up a jumbo paperclip so it forms a V shape on one side and place your battery at its base, with its positive leg touching copper tape while its negative leg is hovering above it but not touching. Affix the LED so both its legs touch their respective copper tape sides for best results.
Push one thumbtack or nail into cardboard and push through one of the straight paperclips with wire wrapping, allowing it to pivot freely on it. Press a second straight paperclip so it makes contact with but doesn’t pass through another straight paperclip – this serves as your switch, which when pushed will cause electricity to flow and illuminate your bulb. Make this flashlight waterproof by covering it in plastic wrap, but please do not attempt prolonged underwater use with this device!
There is an array of flashlights on the market today – ones that shake, crank, twist, click and even flash – but creating your own with only basic materials could save money and effort. A paper tube, D size battery and light bulb could become functional flashlights with some creativity and skill.
As part of their brainstorming session, students should decide which materials will be necessary to build their flashlight. You may wish to provide them with an electrical circuit diagram for a typical flashlight (Figure 2) in printout form or have it drawn directly on the board as an aid.
After selecting materials, have each team document its design plan on a Flashlight Construction Worksheet. After all teams have constructed their flashlights, have each student test his/her flashlight; it should light up at least three times in succession without issue if possible; otherwise compare their flashlight against its circuit diagram and make any necessary design or fabrication improvements as soon as possible.
As you screw in the light bulb, be careful that its brass tab remains slightly raised – otherwise it could flatten and prevent proper contact between bulb and socket, and lead to inaction from switching on. Also make sure that copper wires connecting LED board to battery are sufficiently thick; thinner wires would restrict how much current could flow to LED board thus decreasing brightness of flashlight.
If you want to add a personalized touch to your flashlight, silk-screening may be an ideal way to do it. In this process, a stencil covered with thick green goo called emulsion is placed against your flashlight surface before being pressed against. Another decoration technique available to you is called full color transfer in which a giant stamp covered in ink is then pressed against its surface – both methods produce amazing designs!