Blogger Children and Technology Committee

Celebrating Diwali with a STEAM Activity: Fostering Cultural Competency in Libraries

A photograph of the diya card fully decorated and with the LED lit.

As librarians, we strive to create inclusive spaces that celebrate diversity and promote cultural understanding. Diwali, also known as Deepavali or the Festival of Lights, is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world. Typically lasting for five days, it is observed by Hindu, Sikh, Jain, and some Buddhist communities. Diwali is a time of joy, gratitude, and hope for millions of people. Embracing this multicultural event enhances our understanding of different traditions and creates a welcoming environment for families that celebrate Diwali.

A fun and easy Diwali STEAM activity that you can do at your library is to create a paper circuit diya card. A diya is an oil lamp that is lit during the holiday to symbolize the triumph of good and light over evil and darkness.

Materials

  1. 8 ½ x 11 cardstock or thick paper 
  2. Pencil and eraser 
  3. Copper tape with conductive adhesive 
  4. Scotch tape 
  5. LED diode 
  6. Coin cell battery 
  7. Markers, stickers, or other embellishments for decoration  

Preparation

Print the diya design. Print two diyas on each piece of cardstock, and then cut the paper in half. Use a small hole punch to make a hole in the “flame” that the LED legs will fit through. 

Diya design template.

The Activity

Step 1: Decorate the diya.

Step 2: Flip the paper over and fold about an inch of the bottom right corner of the paper. 

  • The bottom line of the circuit should reach the middle of the battery when the battery is placed underneath the fold.

Step 4: Mark the battery location.

  • Position the battery in the folded corner, then unfold the corner and trace around the battery.

Step 3: Using a pencil, draw the circuit design. 

  • Show the children a template. 
  • Label the positive and negative ends of the lines around the hole for the LED and the circle for the battery.

Step 5: Create the paper circuit.

  • Cut strips of copper tape and attach the copper tape to the cardstock, following the circuit design. 
  • Show the children how to carefully apply the copper tape by unpeeling it along the lines so that it does not stick to itself.

Step 6: Attach LED.

  • Push an LED through the hole in the card so that the bulb is on the side with the diya design, and the legs are on the side with the copper tape. 
  • Bend the legs of the LED down. Ensure that the long (positive) leg is positioned so that it touches the copper tape underneath the plus sign, and the shorter (negative) leg touches the copper tape underneath the minus sign.

Step 7: Attach Battery.

  • Using scotch tape, tape the battery to the card. 
  • Make sure the battery is placed with the negative side down, as marked on the circuit diagram. 
  • Be sure the tape runs along the top half of the battery so that the circuit can be completed.

Step 8: Test the circuit before taping the LED in place.

  • If correctly positioned, the LED should light up when the corner of the paper is folded to touch the battery.  
  • If the LED does not light up, check to make sure there are no gaps in the copper tape and use more copper tape to cover the gaps. Also check to make sure the battery is taped in place correctly. 
  • Once it is correctly positioned, tape the legs of the LED in place. 

Step 9: Press and hold the bent corner so that it touches the battery to turn the card on by completing the circuit. Enjoy the card! 

Conclusion

By incorporating basic circuitry and an LED light into a Diwali lamp design, this activity allows children to explore the science of electricity and learn about the significance of light in the festival.

All photographs courtesy of Adele Chase.


This blog post addresses the following ALSC Core Competencies

Designs, promotes, presents, and evaluates a variety of diverse programs for children, with consideration of equity, diversity, and inclusion; principles of child development; and the needs, interests, and goals of all children, their caregivers, and educators in the community.  (III. Programming Skills)

Designs programs that foster a variety of literacies and learning methods including but not limited to pre-literacy, early literacy, family literacy, media literacy, technology literacy, computational thinking, STEM, and maker-centered learning. (III. Programming Skills)

This blog post  helps further the following 2023-2026 ALSC Strategic Initiative:

Strong cultural competency training and support, in particular related to media evaluation


Adele Chase is a member of the ALSC Children and Technology Committee and an advocate for women, girls, nonbinary people, and people of color in STEM fields. She is a Research and Readers’ Advisory Customer Service Specialist, Sr.,  at Richland Library in Columbia, SC, and an MLIS student at the University of South Carolina.

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