Hidden Alarm

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In this design challenge activity, learners invent a device that will make their friends and family ask, "What's buzzing?" Learners design an alarm with an on/off switch that is small enough to hide. This activity is a fun, hands-on way for learners to get a taste for the design process and experiment with circuitry.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Type:

English, Spanish

Materials List (per student)

  • 1 AA battery
  • 1–2 feet of electrical wire (Ask an adult to help you strip the plastic coating off the ends to expose the wires.)
  • 1 buzzer (wires attached preferred)
  • Tape (duct or masking)
  • Thin cardboard (Also called chipboard; you can use cereal boxes, too.)
  • Tin-foil
  • Scissors
  • Wire strippers


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Circuits
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process
      • Invention and Innovation
      • Problem Solving
      • Troubleshooting and Maintenance

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • hear
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Uses STEM to solve real-world problems
  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Components that are part of this resource:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


Source Collection

  • Design Squad Nation


Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation, 0810996