Solar beads (or UV beads) and LEDs fascinate children and always seem to surprise them. Using both in a DIY art project will help them engage with learning and be creative. When it is easy to get children outside in the sun, UV beads can be added to many different projects. LED is a fun addition to many projects too. Today we welcome my friend Carolyn, a curriculum and gifted education specialist, back for a STEAM project for kids using UV beads, LED lights, and paint.
For this project, we drew a day and night picture first. Each child can draw a different picture. While drawing the pictures, parents and teachers can help kids think about where they can put the beads and LEDs.
Next, we painted our picture. We used watercolor paper, so we chose to use watercolors. If you prefer, crayons would also work. Be aware, if you choose watercolor, you have to wait while the paint dry. This can be a faster process if the picture is placed outside in the sun.
For a most simple project, you can use only UV beads. We put UV beads on flowers, sun, and owl’s eyes. We sewed the beads on with white thread which was tied on the back of the watercolor paper. Younger children will like placing the picture in the sun to watch what happens.
When placed in the sun, the beads change colors! The change takes only about a minute. The beads are activated by UV rays. Of course, on cloudy days it takes longer and they do not work at night.
For a more involved project, LEDs may be used. Copper tape or copper wire along with small batteries will help complete this project. We used a two parallel circuit with two LEDs and batteries. Here is the owl with the LEDs in place ready for lighting.
Voila! They shine brightly at night. Have the children think about where else they might have noticed LEDs at work. They should have many observations.
Here is a diagram of how the wires, batteries, and LEDs work together to light the owl eyes.
Your children are certainly originals and will have their own ideas about using solar beads and LEDs in a day and night picture. This STEM kit would be a great starting point for their creativity and interest. It includes needed materials and design ideas.
Hope you enjoyed this project like I do. Interested in more fun learning ideas from Carolyn? She has a website Wise Owl Factory, that hosts tons of fun ideas.
Looking for more UV Beads activities? Try this UV Beads Necklace. It also include a suggestion on where to get the necklace string that is easy for preschool kids to string the beads.
For more STEM activities for young children, check out 9 STEM Activities for Preschool Kids.