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Squishy Circuits: the movie

18
Jul/11

Squishy Circuits in the Tinkering Studio

Last week, I had the chance to shoot some informal video that I think conveys the idea of what it was like to play around with squishy circuits, what the mood was, and general energy level.

As Ryan mentioned before, I found that the range of exploration available with squishy circuits is not greater than with Circuit Boards, but the whole approach to the activity changes radically.

Specifically, what it affects most directly is the kids' "dwell time".

Electrical circuits can definitely be intimidating, and oftentimes an initial failure can be highly discouraging, especially for kids who are already identifying themselves as not being very "science-minded". But everyone knows how to mess about with play-doh, and so instead of turning away, even if that light bulb does not light up at first, kids stay longer, because play-doh is inherently fun. And that increase the chances that they will make a connection, both literally and figuratively.

I also liked how Lianna facilitated the kids at the beginning of the video: keep in mind that this was our very first time trying this out on the floor, and so we really had no idea how to introduce the materials and the goals. By giving the kids something very familiar and fun to do ("make a ball with the dough") she simultaneously got them started constructing right away, and setting up a conceptual milestone: that you close a circuit by bridging a gap in the flow of electricity.

The creative range of contraptions made and attempted was also much greater, and certainly, from my perspective, much more intertwined with aesthetic choices: circuits became airplanes, cyclops, robots, etc. Also, whether the conductive material was pink or green mattered, and so each choice was more carefully considered, and perhaps the exploration a little bit deeper than it would otherwise.

This week we'll be doing a series of trainings with Squishy Circuits for the High School Explainers crew, and hopefully sometime in the near future we'll be trying this out again for the public. Stay tuned on our home page, we'll announce it there.

hey have you been working with AnneMarie: http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/
lovely resistant doh!

Hey Keith,

Yes! In fact, this whole thing came about after we saw her TED talk, and we based our recipes on the ones from her website. She also has some additional ideas (like a Play-Doh battery) on her site, which we'll explore as well.

Thanks for the heads up!

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