10 Projects to Get Started Building Circuits on a Breadboard!
Using a breadboard is an important "next step" in exploring circuits and electronics STEM projects. Try one of these ten Science Buddies projects to get to know your breadboard and start building circuits with confidence.
Students who are just getting started exploring electronics often begin with basic circuits in which batteries are connected directly to motors or LEDs (like the Bristlebot robot) or connected with conductive materials (like paper circuits or electric playdough). These beginner projects are fun and easy and help students learn more about series and parallel circuits (and short circuits!), but curious students will quickly move on and be ready for circuits that involve a breadboard.
Learn About Breadboards
A breadboard is a plastic board with holes arranged in columns and rows. Today's boards are typically solderless, which means you can push the pins of components directly into holes and then pull them back out, as needed. With a single breadboard, you can build and rebuild circuits as often as you wish. This makes a breadboard a great way for students to explore electronics because they can move components around when designing, changing, or troubleshooting their circuits. (Placing something in the wrong hole accidentally is a common problem, so being able to easily remove and reposition an element while troubleshooting is a plus!)
The arrangement of columns and rows on a breadboard is key to how the board works in terms of connecting the circuit. Along the sides of the breadboard are the bus strips (or rails). The bus strips supply electrical power to the circuit when you connect them to a battery pack or other external power supply.
The How to Use a Breadboard video from Science Buddies provides an excellent overview of how a breadboard works. The video was designed for students and educators who are using a breadboard for the first time, but the video also addresses technical questions experienced users and hobbyists may also have:
A full companion How to Use a Breadboard resource is also available to help answer student questions about different types of breadboards, how they are labeled, how the columns and rows work, and more.
10 Breadboard Electronics Projects to Try!
With a few electronics parts and a small breadboard, students can explore a range of different electronics projects and learn more about how circuits work. These projects can be the basis of a school science project or just fun as a home exploration. For educators, breadboard projects work well with individual students or in small groups both in the classroom and in out-of-school settings.
The following ten projects are all good intermediate electronics projects that use a breadboard:
- Flippy, the Dancing Robot: build a robot that flips, tumbles, and dances and use the engineering design process to improve the design.
- Green Technology: Build an Electronic Soil Moisture Sensor to Conserve Water: make it easier to take care of your plants by building a simple circuit that indicates whether soil is wet or dry. (For a fun and creative spin on the project, see A Water Sensor Circuit for the Tree.)
- Build a Light-Tracking Bristlebot: build a small toothbrush-head robot that can follow a light. (This is one of two projects you can do with the Advanced Bristlebots Robotics Kit.)
- Build a Solar-Powered Bristlebot: build a robot that can operate on either battery or solar power as part of an exploration of alternative energy. (This is one of two projects you can do with the Advanced Bristlebots Robotics Kit.)
- Human-Powered Energy: explore the concepts behind "shake it"-powered products (like flashlights) and build a small hand-powered electrical generator that can power a series of tiny lights.
- Engineer an LED Night-Light: build a small nightlight that turns on automatically when it gets dark and design a body or housing for it, too.
- Build a Motion-Activated Guard Robot (BlueBot Project #1): first in a series of four BlueBot projects, this project involves a robot that uses a motion-detecting sensor. (All BlueBot projects require the BlueBot: 4-in-1 Robotics Kit.)
- Musical Light Show: combine a circuit and Scratch programming to create a music and lights show that you control by pressing keys on your keyboard. (This is one of 8 projects you can do with the Raspberry Pi Projects Kit, several of which involve a breadboard.)
- Interactive Art: Build Statues That Come Alive When They See You: use a circuit with a motor and sensors to create a statue that will respond (with motion) when it detects your presence.
- Avoid the Shock of Shocks! Build Your Own Super-sensitive Electric Field Detector: build a super-sensitive charge detector that can detect electric fields created by static electricity and alert you before you get shocked! (Note: This project is listed as Advanced-Easy at Science Buddies, but eager students may particularly enjoy the concept of this shock detector!)
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Have you used a science project, STEM activity, or Lesson Plan from Science Buddies in your class or program? We would love to hear your story! Email us at email@example.com and tell us how you use Science Buddies with students.
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