Can we connect a small motor to circuit playground?

I have a pair of students who want to turn on a tiny little bits (or other) fan/propeller using the circuit board pins? Can we do this?


My super smart kids and I figured it out. Ohhhhh…the places you can go when you learn to make a circuit and then control the circuit with code:)


Hi Melynn.
You posted this a long time ago, but I am experiencing the same challenge right now. However, we have not figured out how to control the circuit through App Lab. Would you be willing to share a little about how you and your kids were able to control the circuit? (Or is there anyone else out there who can help?) Thanks!

Hi @ebaker,

I’m not sure where you are in the lessons but the most helpful for this is Unit 6a Lesson 17. Bubble 1 to 3 gives the most specific instruction on how to connect the wires and write the basic code to control an external wire/circuit including a diagram on activity/bubble 3. The activities/bubbles up to and including 6 are practice creating these circuits and controlling with code. Activity/Bubble 7 is an activity that uses the app to control the external wires/circuits.

I hope that helps,

Thank you, Michelle.

I’m wondering if I just don’t have the right kind of external device. I’m trying to use a small “hobby motor” via alligator clips. I tried using the “pinMode” and “digitalWrite” blocks and it worked with an LED, but not with the motor. I will take a look at those activities/bubbles and see if it works. Fingers crossed!

Take care,


How much power does the hobby motor require? Which pin on the Circuit Playground are you connected to? This resource says to make sure you are connected to the 3.3V out pin. Also, make sure the motor does not require more power than that.

Hope that helps

If you have a pair of students who want to turn on a small fan or propeller using circuit board pins, you can create a simple and engaging project. Start by acquiring a microcontroller like Arduino, which is widely used in educational settings. Connect a fan module or propeller to the microcontroller, ensuring that the voltage and current requirements are within the microcontroller’s specifications. Identify the GPIO (General Purpose Input/Output) pins on the microcontroller that will control the fan. Write a basic program using the microcontroller’s programming language (such as Arduino’s C/C++) to turn the GPIO pin on and off in a loop, effectively controlling the fan’s operation. Upload and run the program on the microcontroller, and the fan should start spinning according to your programmed pattern. It’s essential to prioritize safety, especially when working with students, and confirm the power compatibility of all components to prevent any potential issues.

Thank you