Let's Make Robots!

Explore Electronics Using Play Dough

Teach Kindergarden Kids about Chemistry and Electronics

Do you want to make it possible for a kid to make electronic circuits?
   Make Squishy Circuit play dough and make up some challenges.

Do you want to teach your kid about life, the universe and everything?
   Take every chance you get to introduce physics, chemistry, electronics, math and software.


This tip introduces the Squishy Circuits. An idea that comes from here and her and has had an impact ever since. I learned about it here.

 

How to make play dough?

The Squishy Circuits website contains a detailed description of the ingredients and recipe.

 

The Play Dough Making

First, make the non-conductive dough. Simple to make and straight forward.

While making it is possible to ask the kid why all these ingredients together form the dough.
Since we know it is a big portion of chemistry this is a good chance to introduce
the notion of a chemical reaction into the making of the play dough. 

Neither me nor my five year old kid get exactly what is happening in the chemical process of dough-making. 

Being sensitized of the existence of Chemistry gives a habitat in a kids brain to fill in more... more brain-food will come.
Good to know that this is not macro-mechanics, not electronics, it is something else. It has to do with life, the universe and everything.

My kid came across Chemistry because he likes this little character and this video.

 

Second the conductive dough is mixed and cooked. 

One half hour later the first LED lid up. Squishy Circuits - here we are.

The kid began to play and I prepared the electronics...

...and made up the first challenge: Make this LED shine.

So a kid must realize what is wrong and how one can solve it. This is a basic method
of problem solving. Fine for me. And the kid mastered this challenge and was a bit
proud of himself.

Second challenge a bit more complicated... but the same problem type. 

The third challenge is same same but different that is is modeled in 3D and the kid
must find + and - first. 

That is fun problem solving for kids.

So the making went on and on.

More LEDs consume more amps. This can be shown here too.

 

Conclusion

So this tip can help you to have some educational activity on a bad-weather day like it
was today.

Thank's to AnnMarie Polsenberg Thomas for this rocking idea, the publishing of
Squishy Circuits online and her appearence on TED.

 

Further Readings

Squishy Circuits
   "The goal of the project is to design tools and activities which allow kids of all ages to create circuits and explore electronics using play dough."

The Chemistry of Dough
   "If you pour water over your flour, the first thing that will happen is that some starch and water combine into the well-known starch glue. As a result the proto-dough is a sticky mess. After a while, however, change happens and the dough becomes smooth and elastic. Behind this change are two proteins, gliadin and glutenin."

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I suppose that there could be a potential way to harden the play dough, lets say if you wanted to create a PCB for instance? Some one needs to make a use play dough only robot challenge lol. This stuff is awesome!

I noticed that they have a gluten free version too. Do people with gluten sensitivity need to avoid touching it too? What would be neat is if there was a version of the dough that reacted to the current itself-like a muscle or something. I have nowhere near the chemistry background to make that happen.

Uh... We really need a way to remove posts.

Looks like you love play dough! But this also can be used for more than simple circuits. I want to see a play dough pcb!

I noticed that they have a gluten free version too. Do people with gluten sensitivity need to avoid touching it too? What would be neat is if there was a version of the dough that reacted to the current itself-like a muscle or something. I have nowhere near the chemistry background to make that happen.
Hahahaha! That is so awesome and very creative Nils!!! Thanks for sharing this.