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Squishy Circuits was developed to teach K-8 school children about circuit electricity by letting them build circuits from a PlayDoh-like substance. There are two simple recipes for making the dough: one is conductive and one is insulating. At the simplest level, kids construct a series circuit consisting of one LED, a battery pack, conductive dough, and insulating dough. Learning progresses through parallel circuit construction, motor circuits, buzzer circuits, advanced RGB-LED circuits, and "squishy" animals. All materials are easily acquired, or a kit can be purchased from the website for about $20. Project leader AnnMarie Thomas has created some first-rate videos with teaching tips and directions for the more-advanced circuits. Look for them in the left menu.
Editor's Note: We tried some of the Squishy Circuits experiments.....they are seriously fun! Elementary school kids will love them, but we also recommend using them in middle school or 9th grade physical science classrooms as a preamble to the study of electric circuits.
Play Doh circuits, circuit construction, dough circuits, motor, parallel circuit, series circuit
Metadata instance created
November 25, 2011
by Caroline Hall
November 26, 2011
by Caroline Hall
AAAS Benchmark Alignments (2008 Version)
3. The Nature of Technology
3B. Design and Systems
3-5: 3B/E2. Even a good design may fail. Sometimes steps can be taken ahead of time to reduce the likelihood of failure, but it cannot be entirely eliminated.
4. The Physical Setting
4D. The Structure of Matter
3-5: 4D/E5. Substances may move from place to place, but they never appear out of nowhere and never just disappear.
3-5: 4D/E6. All materials have certain physical properties, such as strength, hardness, flexibility, durability, resistance to water and fire, and ease of conducting heat.
6-8: 4D/M9. Materials vary in how they respond to electric currents, magnetic forces, and visible light or other electromagnetic waves.
4E. Energy Transformations
6-8: 4E/M2. Energy can be transferred from one system to another (or from a system to its environment) in different ways: 1) thermally, when a warmer object is in contact with a cooler one; 2) mechanically, when two objects push or pull on each other over a distance; 3) electrically, when an electrical source such as a battery or generator is connected in a complete circuit to an electrical device; or 4) by electromagnetic waves.
4G. Forces of Nature
6-8: 4G/M4. Electrical circuits require a complete loop through which an electrical current can pass.
6-8: 4G/M5. A charged object can be charged in one of two ways, which we call either positively charged or negatively charged. Two objects that are charged in the same manner exert a force of repulsion on each other, while oppositely charged objects exert a force of attraction on each other.
8. The Designed World
8C. Energy Sources and Use
6-8: 8C/M4. Electrical energy can be generated from a variety of energy resources and can be transformed into almost any other form of energy. Electric circuits are used to distribute energy quickly and conveniently to distant locations.
This resource is part of a Physics Front Topical Unit.
Topic: Electricity and Electrical Energy Unit Title: Teaching About Electricity in the Middle Grades
Want a seriously fun activity to introduce younger kids to electric circuits, but without the set-up hassle of circuit boards, resistors, leads, and switches? This innovative website, developed by an engineering professor, gives recipes for making circuits with homemade Play-Doh (one recipe for conducting dough; one for insulating dough). Other materials include LED's and a battery pack. HUGELY fun.
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