LED Glowies and Throwies are great little lights which you can use as building blocks for all kinds of STEAM projects. A simple LED Glowie consists of an LED and 1 or 2 cell batteries, taped together. To make one you put the positive wire (longer wire) of the LED on the positive + side of the cell battery and the negative wire (shorter wire) on the negative – side of the battery. Then you tape them together. You can use 1 or 2 cell batteries so if the LED doesn’t light up, you can add a cell battery by stacking the two batteries on top of each other taking care that you stack them with both positive sides facing up. It can be a bit more challenging to tape the two batteries to the LED but with practice it gets easier.

Here is a short video showing you how to create an LED glowie.

Creating an LED throwie is pretty much the same process as creating a glowie but by adding a magnet you can have all sorts of fun either throwing or attaching LED throwies to different objects. Its best to try and create them to be as light as possible, using a strong magnet but you also want them to be as bright as possible. Using two cell batteries is better but it does make them a bit bulky as you can see in the next video.

Here is a short example of how to create an LED glowie, I am sure you can make them more streamlined than the one in our example.

Once you have made some basic LED glowies and throwies, you can explore ways to take your ideas further. You could make a target game by throwing different LED throwies to try and get the bullseye or you can attach them to a moving wheel such as a bike wheel to see them create interesting patterns in the dark. You could create little wearables or little monster puppets with glowing eyes.

Taking it further

When you have played around with glowies and throwies for a while, you could explore some of these ideas to turn your LED projects into artworks or interactive projects.

LED Human Figure by Makoto Tojiki

Makoto Tojiki – The Man with No Shadow

Pu Gong Ying Tu - LED watercolour painting

Pu Gong Ying Tu – by Jie Qi

For some really experimental and artistic experiments with Paper, Cardboard and LED circuits – have a look at Jie Qie’s Technolojie

Alternatively you could try creating an LED pendulum mounted snake

Find out more about Brusspup’s experiments

From Forrest Mims – Science Experiments DIY projects from the pages of Make:

Another useful way to experiment with LED throwies is to attach them to a water rocket and launch them into space – If you take a really slow exposure photo of the launch then you get these beautiful arcs in the night sky. See more about this project over at Make: