Hands-on Activity: Build and Play the Electrical Circuit Wire Maze

Contributed by: K-12 Outreach Office, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Quick Look

Grade Level: 7 (6-8)

Time Required: 1 hour

Expendable Cost/Group: US $2.00

Group Size: 0

Activity Dependency: None

Subject Areas: Science and Technology

A simple electric circuit composed of a switch, lamp and voltage source.
Students explore electrical circuits
Copyright © Wikimedia Commons http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/1/19/Simple_electric_circuit.png


Students gain a basic understanding of electrical circuits. They build wire circuits and pass paperclips through the mazes, trying not to touch the wires. Touching a wire with a paperclip causes the circuit to close, which activates an indicator.

Engineering Connection

We use circuits every day in household appliances from computers and radios to ovens and refrigerators. One of the most important circuits we use each day is that of a light bulb. Understanding electrical circuits is the basis of electrical engineering.

Learning Objectives

To understand how electrical circuits work

Educational Standards

Each TeachEngineering lesson or activity is correlated to one or more K-12 science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) educational standards.

All 100,000+ K-12 STEM standards covered in TeachEngineering are collected, maintained and packaged by the Achievement Standards Network (ASN), a project of D2L (www.achievementstandards.org).

In the ASN, standards are hierarchically structured: first by source; e.g., by state; within source by type; e.g., science or mathematics; within type by subtype, then by grade, etc.

  • Troubleshooting is a problem-solving method used to identify the cause of a malfunction in a technological system. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • A product, system, or environment developed for one setting may be applied to another setting. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • There is no perfect design. (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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  • Given a design task, identify appropriate materials (e.g., wood, paper, plastic, aggregates, ceramics, metals, solvents, adhesives) based on specific properties and characteristics (e.g., strength, hardness, and flexibility). (Grades 6 - 8) More Details

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Materials List

  • 5 m stripped wire
  • 1 pair wire cutters
  • 1 battery
  • 1 noise maker or light
  • 1 metal paper clip

More Curriculum Like This


Students are introduced to several key concepts of electronic circuits. They learn about some of the physics behind circuits, the key components in a circuit and their pervasiveness in our homes and everyday lives.

High School Lesson
Circuits: One Path for Electricity

Students learn that charge movement through a circuit depends on the resistance and arrangement of the circuit components. In one associated hands-on activity, students build and investigate the characteristics of series circuits. In another activity, students design and build flashlights.

Electrons on the Move

Students learn about current electricity and necessary conditions for the existence of an electric current. Students construct a simple electric circuit and a galvanic cell to help them understand voltage, current and resistance.

Elementary Lesson
Statistical Analysis of Flexible Circuits

Students are introduced to the technology of flexible circuits, some applications and the photolithography fabrication process. They are challenged to determine if the fabrication process results in a change in the circuit dimensions since, as circuits get smaller and smaller (nano-circuits), this c...


Electrical engineers work with anything that carries electricity. Computers are primarily designed by electrical engineers. In this activity, we will explore the concept of closed circuits. We will use the materials given to design a maze. The object is to not touch the wire with the paper clip as you pass it over the maze. When you touch the maze with the paperclip a sound (or light) signals that the circuit has been closed.


  1. Assemble the wire in the desired shape leaving a strand of wire on each end of the maze.
  2. Take one end of the wire from the maze and connect it to the battery.
  3. Take the other end and thread the paperclip onto the wire and then connect with wire to the noise maker or light.
  4. Connect the battery to the noise maker or light.
  5. Move the paper clip around the wire, trying not to touch the wire.


Investigating Questions Homework: Ask students the Investigating Questions and ask them to write up possible options/solutions as homework.

Investigating Questions

  • Could you set this up differently and still have it work?
  • Could you do this with wire that was covered?


© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2005 Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Supporting Program

K-12 Outreach Office, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Last modified: August 17, 2018


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