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Age Range: 7-11
Duration: 30-59 mins | 60 or more mins
  • D & T
  • Science

Make a trap to detect Santa

Make an Electronic Santa Detector in this fun science experiment to detect Santa on Christmas Eve

You have a dilemma: you want to stay awake to see Santa deliver your presents on Christmas Eve, but you’re worried you might fall asleep. Try out this fun science experiment, designed for primary school students, to catch Santa as he delivers your presents by creating an electronic trap!

What equipment will you need?

A thin piece of sponge – a washing up sponge is great, but make sure it is completely dry, Scissors, Masking or sticky tape, Aluminium kitchen foil, 3 crocodile leads (you will need another 2 if you do the extension task), A 2 x AA battery pack, A 3V buzzer

How to do it

  • Step 1 - Cut a square of the thin sponge approximately 10cm x 10cm.
    In the centre, cut a hole approximately 4cm in diameter.
    ⚠ Be careful when using scissors. Always have an adult on standby in case you need help.
  • Step 2 - Cut two pieces of aluminium foil slightly smaller than your piece of sponge.
  • Step 3 - Using masking or sticky tape, tape one piece of aluminium foil to the top of the sponge and the other to the bottom. The tin foil pieces MUST NOT touch if the sponge is not pressed down but should once it is pressed.
  • Step 4 - Attach one crocodile lead to the top piece of foil and one to the bottom piece.
    You have now built the pressure pad for your Electronic Santa Detector, but you need to put it in a circuit for something to happen. Follow the diagram in the activity sheet below to connect the components with your crocodile leads.
    When you gently press the centre, the buzzer should sound.

Now all you need to do is leave it somewhere you think Santa will stand when he delivers your presents. Just inside your bedroom door, perhaps, or at the end of your bed with your stocking.

When he steps on the pressure pad, the buzzer will sound and alert you to him being in the room.

You might also want to disguise it so it is not noticeable. Santa is old and wise, and if he sees it, he will know not to step on it!

The engineering context

Engineers need to be able to understand how electrical circuits are drawn and communicated; This includes the use of circuit symbols to produce circuit diagrams and schematics. This knowledge could be used when investigating, designing or making electrical and electronic circuits in the future.

Download the free Make a trap to detect Santa activity sheet below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download, and all the documents are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Oh ho ho, and please do share your experiment highlights with us @IETeducation! #SantaLovesSTEM.

Available Downloads


Make a trap to detect Santa

STEM with Mr N shows you how to make a trap to detect Santa!

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