Summer. Can you picture it? Fun evenings outside waiting forever for the sun to go down so the lightning bugs can come out. If you’re lucky enough to see them light up where you live, this card is perfect for you. Or if you never get the chance to see them (like me!), this Glowing Lightning Bug Paper Circuit Card is the project for you, too. Because it’s awesome STEM and STEAM learning at home or school or your favorite makerspace! Be sure to add this to your favorite summer STEAM project list!
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What Makes a Lightning Bug Glow?
Lightning bugs, also known as fireflies, get their glow from bioluminescence. A chemical reaction in their bodies between oxygen, calcium, adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the chemical luciferin in the presence of luciferase, a bioluminescent enzyme, causes them to light up.
They live in warm, moist areas of Asia and the Americas. And that’s why I remember them in the humid, summer days of my childhood in Ohio. And miss them now during the dry summers in California!!
Lightning Bug Paper Circuits Supplies Needed
Here’s everything you’ll need to make these super cute cards. There are two different templates, one kiddo can color in themselves and a full-color version.
- Printable template (see below for the free printable)
- White cardstock
- 1/4″ copper tape
- CR 2032 coin cell battery
- 5 mm LED bulb
- Small binder clip
SAFETY NOTE: Coin cell batteries are dangerous when swallowed. ADULT SUPERVISION REQUIRED when experimenting with coin cell batteries.
To get the free printable template, simply fill out the form below and it will be emailed to you.
How to Make Your Lightning Bug Paper Circuit Card
- Print out the template on white card stock. Color if using the blank template.
- Fold the card in half along the dotted line.
- With a pin, poke a hole through each black dot on the lightning bug tail all the way through to the circuit diagram.
- Insert LED with the positive lead (the longer one) in the left hole and the negative lead (the shorter one) in the right hole. Bend leads so the bulb is flat to the paper and the leads follow the circuit lines.
- Tape along the circuit lines with copper tape there are no breaks in the tape except at the LED and at the battery.
- Place battery on grey circle, negative terminal side down and fold the card at the dotted corner line. Secure with a binder clip.
Isn’t this finished lightning bug paper circuit card cute? I love this little glowing critter!
If you have a little kiddo who wants to do what the big kids do, grab some mini glow sticks and have them tape them to the card instead of building the circuits.
More Firefly Fun
We love the book How to Survive as a Firefly by Kristen Foote. It’s a fun story that teaches the amazing science behind why fireflies glow and how they survive throughout their life cycle.
This lightning bug activity is a sneak peek into our STEAM Explorers Camping Ebook!
Make This Summer Epic with DIY Camp STEAM
Want to fill your summer with some more STEAM inspiration? Let us help you. Let us help you create an at-home summer camp filled with epic projects the kids will love. Like this Lightning Bug Paper Circuit Card
Camp STEAM is a DIY camp you can run at home and includes daily themes packed with entertaining and educational projects like Paper Helicopters, Electric Crowns, and Whirly Twirly Flying Birds. PLUS, bonus activities to keep the kids busy while you are! Perfect for children ages 4-10, all the step-by-step activities are helpfully coded with difficulty indicators and estimated project times. We’ve pulled together everything you need to make this DIY camp a success. Like tips on setup, cleanup, how to customize for different ages, and how to easily add learning to the mix. To learn more, click over to Camp STEAM! And make this summer epic.