If your kids are budding engineers, they will love Christmas STEM activities for children, such as this fun Christmas light STEM project! Technology and engineering in one and tons of Christmas tree STEM activities. Because of its difficulty, we recommend doing this Christmas light circuit project during middle school or high school.
Follow with our directions below to learn how to complete one of our favorite simple circuit projects, the Christmas light STEM project, and make holiday lights that dance and blink!
All About the Christmas Light STEM Project
Whether programming LED lights on a breadboard or setting outdoor lights to Christmas music, the basics steps are the same.
Here are the basic concepts required before students can program their own LED lights with Arduino or another breadboard programming software.
Before you begin, make sure you have all the necessary materials:
- Christmas lights (LEDs are recommended for their versatility)
- Light controller (such as a programmable light controller or microcontroller like Arduino)
- Computer with appropriate software (like xLights or Vixen Lights)
Plan your light display design.
Consider factors like the layout of your house, the number of channels (individual lights or groups of lights), and the music you want to use.
Configure the software to match the layout of your lights and controller channels.
This is where you’ll program the light sequences to match the music.
Import your chosen music into the software. Then, use the software to create lighting sequences that sync with the music.
You’ll define when each group of lights should turn on, off, change color, or perform special effects.
This activity is one of our favorite technology activities for kids!
What you’ll need for the Christmas Light STEM Project:
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This light-up Christmas tree project is fun for older kids and if you are doing it with younger kids, skip the breadboard and just use a string of Christmas lights like we used to supplement our programmed lights.
Hands-On STEM Resources about Trees
Here are some hands-on STEM resources about trees that can be used alongside this Christmas tree STEM activity.
Breadboards on Amazon
You can use any of these light kits for breadboard projects for kids.
Fun Electrical Engineering Facts to Share with your Class
Here are some facts about electricity and electrical engineering that you can share with your class while doing this activity.
Electricity is the flow of tiny particles called electrons. It can power our homes, gadgets, and much more.
Thomas Edison is famous for inventing the light bulb, which revolutionized the way we light our homes. He also created the first electrical power grid.
Nikola Tesla, another famous inventor, helped develop the alternating current (AC) system, which is the type of electricity we use in our homes today. He also experimented with wireless electricity transmission.
Electricity runs using circuits. A circuit is like a path that electricity follows. It includes a power source (like a battery), wires, and components (like lights or fans). When a circuit is complete, electricity can flow and make things work.
There are two types of circuits. In a series circuit, components are connected end-to-end, and if one goes out, the whole circuit is affected. In a parallel circuit, components are connected in separate branches, so if one goes out, the others can still work.
In circuits, resistors are components that limit the flow of electricity. They are used to control the amount of electricity that goes through different parts of a circuit.
Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) are tiny lights that use very little electricity and come in various colors. They’re used in everything from digital clocks to traffic lights.
Semiconductors are materials that can sometimes conduct electricity and sometimes act as insulators. They’re crucial in making computer chips and other electronic devices.
Christmas Light STEM Project Directions
Here is how to set up this simple LED circuit breadboard project.
First, cut out your felt Christmas tree.
Next, cut little holes in the tree where you want the lights to poke through.
Set up your breadboard according to the tutorial directions listed below.
Christmas STEM Challenge Cards
If you want even more Christmas STEAM activities, try our FREE Christmas STEM challenge cards with 8 fun Christmas STEM activities for kids that are fun printable Christmas STEM challenges that elementary and middle school students will love!
Teacher Christmas Tree Shirts
Here are some adorable Christmas tree shirts for teachers!