Shadows, Silhouettes, & Layers (Oh, my!)
In this activity, you’ll make swatch cards to experiment with different paper and light effects and ponder possibilities for using the properties of both for art and engineering.
Videos by Jie Qi to Get You Thinking
Materials & Tools
- Shadows and Silhouettes Remixable Template (printed on one or more types of paper)
- Simple Circuit template or Parallel Circuit template, printed, using:
- 1 LED (or more in different colors)
- Copper tape or conductive fabric tape
- CR2032 battery
- Binder clip
- (optional) One small piece (1/2″ square) of Pressure Sensitive Conductive Plastic (velostat/linqstat). Note: The Chibi Lights STEM Starter Kit comes with a piece, but it is not quite as conductive as the product currently carried in our store.
- Materials you might wish to explore include: white and colored printer paper, cardstock, vellum, colored tissue paper, transparency plastic, washi tape, or fabric.
- Pencil, pen, and other drawing materials such as Sharpie markers, crayons, and colored pencils
- Glue stick
- Thumbtack or other pointy object
- Hole punch
- Craft knife and cutting mat
- (optional) Double-stick tape
- (optional) Rubber stamp ink pad and stamps
Customize (if desired) and print out the Shadows and Silhouettes Remixable Templates. Consider printing one or more pages on different types of paper, such as white printer paper, colored printer paper, cardstock, or vellum.
Construct a simple or parallel circuit as a source of light.
Draw, glue, and tape materials to the back of the circles on the templates you’ve printed to experiment with different shadow, silhouette, and layering effects when they are backlit.
Some questions to consider:
- What does it look like without the light? Can you see what’s behind the page?
- When you add the light to the back of the page, what do you see?
- What changes when you move the light closer or farther from the page?
- What happens when you change the brightness of the light (using the pressure senstive plastic)? Is it different from the previous question?
- What changes when you add colored light, versus white light?
- What changes if you use more than one material to make your layers?
Tips, Tricks & Call-outs
If using word-processed text, edit it to create a mirror image before printing. Then, to avoid seeing the black ink through white paper, glue the white sides of the paper together, shining the light from underneath.
Related Project Tutorials
Instead of blinking your LEDs on and off, you can make them fade in and out with a pressure sensor you make yourself!
Learn to use copper tape and sticker circuits to make a night light that reveals a secret image when you turn it on!
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