Parents, Educators & Engineers

Dance Pad Mania

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YOUR CHALLENGE

Build a dance pad that lets you use your feet to sound a buzzer or flash a light.

MATERIALS*

  • 1.5-volt AA battery
  • AA battery holder (optional)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Bulb holders for light bulbs (enough for half the group)
  • Buzzers (enough for half the group)
  • 2 11 x 17-inch sheets of corrugated cardboard (per team)
  • Duct tape
  • Electrical wire (22-gauge works well)
  • Light bulbs that can run on a 1.5-volt AA battery
  • Plastic wrap
  • Scissors
  • Wire strippers

BRAINSTORM AND DESIGN

Divide your group into teams of two. Half the teams will make floor pads that flash a light, and the other half will make floor pads that sound a buzzer. When you work as a team, you can often solve design challenges more quickly. For example, you can share knowledge, get new ideas, and brainstorm solutions to problems. You can also learn a lot by looking at how other teams made their pads and seeing how they solved problems.

Your dance pad is basically a super-sized version of the alarm you built in Challenge 1. Like Hidden Alarm, the dance pad has a power source (the battery), materials for conducting electricity (the wires and foil), and something that uses the electricity (the buzzer or light). Yup, that's right, it's an electrical circuit. Before you begin designing, brainstorm answers to the following questions and record your ideas in your design notebook.

  • Will my pad turn on a buzzer or a light?
  • How will I build a switch into my pad to turn the buzzer or light on and off?
  • How big will my pad be?
  • How can I make it sturdy enough to withstand constant stomping?
  • Where will I put the battery? Inside the pad? Outside the pad?

BUILD, TEST, AND REDESIGN

As you build, make sure the circuit works and that it will be able to stand up to some rugged treatment! Once you've built your pad, test it. Step on it several times in a row to turn the buzzer or light on and off. How well did it work? When we made ours, we had to debug some problems. For example, our wires sometimes got loose and our pad stopped working. Also, our switch didn't always work. If things like this happen to you, figure out a way to fix the problem so that your pad works every time.

Picture of light bulb