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Light Assembly- Free Lesson

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This challenge encourages students to engage their creative side to design a light sculpture that expresses the personality of the team. They will design, program and present a light show with  basic circuitry, breadboarding and microcontrollers using Tinkercad. They also design a creative display for their light design using everyday items and presents to the group.

1) Explore Arudino and breadboarding basics

2) Simulate with Tinkercad Electronics

3) Design a light sculpture with creative light pattern and display

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Light is often used as a tool in art.  Consider fireworks displays you have seen which are synchronized to music…or how stained glass comes to life when illuminated from behind. With advances in technology, lighting of many types is now used to express a celebration, a thought, or an idea.

Lighting is used to add a visual layer to concerts, to add drama to theatre productions, and to add color to dinners or weddings.

Lighting designers are only limited by their imagination and the materials and resources available to them! 

  • Student Worksheets
  • Student Team Materials
    • Computer
    • Arduino Microcontroller
    • Arduino IDE Software
    • Breadboard (solderless)
    • Multiple LEDS (min. 4)
    • Multiple Jumper Wires (min 4)
    • Multiple 330-ohm Resistors (min 4)
    • TinkerCad & TinkerCad Circuits (free- just need to register)
    • Prototyping materials (cardboard, cardstock, hot glue, tape)

Learning Activities:

Task 1: Get 4 LEDS to blink on and off then complete the following steps

1) Divide the class into groups of two students each.

2) Have students refer to Figure 1 (if needed) to guide them through the wiring. Make sure that if they intend to connect two wires that they insert the wires in the same row. Have each student group complete the following:

  • Start by first running a wire from the GND pin on the Arduino to the (-) power rail on the left side of the breadboard. Doing this ensures that anything further that is plugged into the (-) power rail will also be connected to GND. 
  • Add four LEDs, starting from the top. Remember that each LED has a long leg and a short leg. Plug the longer leg into the first row and the shorter leg into the second row.
  • Next, use a 330-ohm resistor to connect the second row (and the short leg of the LED) to GND.
  • Finally, connect pin 13 to the long leg of the LED using a short jumper wire to the first row. Repeat this for the remaining three LEDs.

3) Have students create a new code in Arduino software to make the 4 LEDs Blink.  If needed, have them copy the code shown in Figure 2. This is a quick and simple code example to get all four LEDs blinking. (Remember: The code uses special punctuation marks and is case-sensitive.)

4) Have students upload the code by clicking Run on Arduino. If any syntax errors appear, suggest that students double-check their typing. Once students get a message that says “Done uploading,” have them take a look at their circuits—all four LEDs should be blinking (see Figure 3).

5) Review with students what the code is doing by explaining each section of the code (see Figure 4)
Every Arduino program needs these two functions to work:  void setup () {…}  This makes the program start and runs all the code within the {curly brackets} once.
void loop()  {…} This is the main function and will loop continuously.See Robotics Backend video for a  deeper explanation on void setup and void loop.digitalWrite (13, HIGH) command sets the voltage on pin 13 to a HIGH voltage (5V). Turns LEDs on.digitalWrite (13, LOW) command sets the voltage on pin 13 to a LOW voltage (0V ground). Turns LEDs off.

delay(500) command pauses the program for 500 millisecond  (1/2 a second) before going to the next instruction.See Arudino Language Page for more help:
Also see SparkFun Arduino tutorial for more help:

Task 2: Students play with different patterns

  • LED Chaser: Modify the code so that the LEDs turn on one at a time, one after another from left to right, with at least 1/10 of a second before the next LED turns on, and then all turn off. Bonus: Now, modify it so that the LEDs also turn off one at a time.  See sample here:
  • Scrolling LED: Modify the code so that just one LED turns on and moves from left to right and then back—so it looks like the LED is bouncing back and forth. Bonus: Now modify the code so that it speeds up and slows down gradually.  (See #6 Scrolling LED).

Task 3: Students create a unique “Light Show” 

Design Phase of electronics

After playing with different patterns, now students will create their own unique light show for their Light Sculpture challenge.  Teams will design their own pattern and then develop code for it. They need to plan out a sequence of LEDs that does something unique. They can consider adding music – choreograph blinking LED to 15 seconds of music. 


Have teams make a video recording to capture their creation to be shared.

Testing Phase of electronics: Simulate and Test Virtually in TinkerCad Circuits: 
Have students try to prototype their light show in TinkerCad Circuits before they build it. Test and redesign there (Figure 5).  Once they have a working prototype, have them build it.

Students create the Light Sculpture
Have students design and then prototype the light sculptures in CAD and then 3D print part (or all) of the sculpture.  Students can use other materials like cardboard, cardstock, cellophane or any other found materials for a mixed-media sculpture.

Teacher Note: Challenge students to think about how they might re-position the LEDs and modify their code to create a cool effect. Use extension wires to move the LEDs from the breadboard. After students construct their sculptures, direct them back to programming them. Suggest that they create a minimum of two different “modes” or programs that run on their sculptures with a two- or three-second “off” period between the two modes. For example, make the first mode a simple, soft, slow changing pattern, and the second a disco/dance party light.


  • Have students design and prototype their light show in TinkerCad Circuits. If possible, have them try to physically replicate their show with flashlights. Each person becomes an LED in the design and replicates its pattern. 
  • Next, have students design and then prototype the light sculptures in Tinkercad CAD and then 3D print part (or all) of the sculpture.  Students can use other materials like cardboard, cardstock, cellophane or any other found materials for a mixed-media sculpture.  Make sure they consider providing access for the flashlights.
  • Putting them together.  Test out the light sculptures by replicating the light show through the sculpture.