Circuit Inspiration

by Julie C.

Explainers spend a fair amount of time in the Tinkering Studio playing with Circuit Boards. We connect motors to batteries; compare series and parallel circuits; and experiment with types of switches. Visitors join us throughout the day to create their own circuits.

But, what is an electric circuit?

An electric circuit is “a complete conducting loop from the positive terminal to the negative terminal [of a battery], with both the battery and the light bulb [or other component] being part of the loop.” *

blog circuits circuit

But not all circuits are so simple… Here’s one light that has me puzzled. Each segment of this LED number display lights up separately. I haven’t been able to make sense of how it works. But last week a young visitor figured it out.


Not only did every segment of the 8 light up but by using switches each segment could be controlled independently! Lucky for me, our visitor was generous enough to draw a simplified diagram. Each segment of the 8 corresponds to a switch. Do you notice that the switches are arranged in the same way as the 8? There’s even one that matches up to the decimal point.






LED light





For me this is still hard to understand. Do you think you could re-create it? I’m going to try this week! If you’d like to give it a try, stop by the Tinkering Studio and ask for the LED eight. Here’s a photo of the completed set-up as well:

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