Red Light, Green Light — Eighth Graders Create Traffic Gloves

Last week, after taking their final unit test on electricity, eighth graders were tasked with a STEM challenge in which they had to design and create a traffic glove out of red and green LED lights, a coin battery, conductive thread, and copper tape. There were the stipulations they had to keep in mind:

  • All red lights needed to come on at the same time.
  • All green lights needed to come on at the same time.
  • Red and green lights could not come on at the same time.
“It was wonderful to hear students using their new science vocabulary to describe what they were witnessing with their circuits,” shares Michelle Hrastich, Middle School Science Teacher. After building a series circuit with three light bulbs, one student proclaimed that the reason they weren’t seeing them light up wasn’t because they had faulty wiring but because the circuit contained too much resistance and the current was too slow for the lights to light up. Their team then had to change their circuitry from a series circuit to a parallel circuit in order to keep all light bulbs shining bright. Ultimately, students either built two parallel circuits or a combination circuit. It also took some time for the eighth-grade scientists to determine how they would turn the circuits on and off without an official switch, but they were able to figure out a way to make their own switches by moving their fingers (covered in copper tape) into certain places to bridge each circuit.
“At first, I felt kind of defeated because I had no idea how to approach the challenge,” explains Sophia Fischer ’26. “Once Ms. Hrastich told us how to work the circuits we were using, it made a lot more sense. In class on Wednesday, I had a lot of fun brainstorming ideas on how to make it work. The lesson helped me figure out how to take what little knowledge we have about something and make it work in the real world. I also learned a new thing that could be used for traffic that might be helpful.”

Other students also got a lot out of the traffic gloves STEM challenge. “I really enjoyed this project,” shares Elsie Trilling ’26. “It was the first project where we were sort of on our own without the help of Ms. Hrastich. At some points it seemed like it was impossible and that the teachers were just tricking us to see how far we’d get. This project was full of trial and error, many errors, but also things that worked which helped us get closer to finally getting it right. I noticed that not a single person gave up when it wasn’t easy and that our whole class figured out how to make it work. This was a reflection on what we could do with our knowledge from the past unit on circuits. When we were first shown what we were going to make, our expressions consisted of many people saying, ‘What? No way!’ Little did we know, the prior knowledge Ms. Hrastich had taught us was more than enough. This project made me realize that even if something seems impossible at first, there’s always something in our knowledge that can help us figure it out. I am very happy we got to do this project, it helped build teamwork with our classmates and it was so much fun working through it and of course finally getting it to work at the end!”

Olivia Hill ’26 also liked the project. “We learned something new while having fun. It was definitely challenging and involved a lot of creative thinking and good communication, thus I thought everyone had lots of fun figuring out the process of making it and they all worked especially well with their partners. Through this project, we learned to never give up no matter how many mistakes are made. In the beginning, our teacher did not provide any detailed guidance, however, we thought about it over a couple of days and eventually succeeded. We learned to think independently and creatively while applying scientific knowledge to this project.”

This was a fun project that allowed students to use what they learned in class to create a device that could be used in the real world. They also had a chance to fail, problem solve, and redo their prototypes multiple times. “The ability to bounce back and try again after failure in science, and in life, is crucial for students to learn,” explains Hrastich, “and I think this project helped them practice that skill.” Way to build those traffic gloves and resiliency skills, eighth-grade Rams!