From Doughs to Creations

Couple of a few days ago, 8th graders who are taking engineering classes at Kepler Tech Lab surprised me when I came prepared to give them all I had, but kids completely changed learning outcomes I was hoping. I still wonder why I am using the doughs in any context; they are good and helped me define how much kids can be creatie. When I wanted kids in my classroom to explore more about ectronics circuits, I told them we are going to bake doughs and use them in our projects. They were all surprised and shouting that they are doing to consume doughs, but it was not the case and not even allowed to each and drinking from the lab for safety purpose. To be succinct, the projects were about Squishy Circuits using doughs.

What is Squishy Circuit?

“Squishy Circuits uses conductive and insulating play dough to teach the basics of electrical circuits in a fun, hands-on way.”

Losing my control just to described how our engineering classes are structured, kids work in pairs and they switch teams after two weeks to experience working with diverse groups of fellow students. Since we are preparing them a curriculum of physical computing, in these days, kids are being trained for using computers, performing some typing exercises, and compete for one another playing around with typing games.

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Back to the Squishy Circuits! With Squishy Circuits, I was expecting kids to make resistors and capacitors, which they did, but they ended up making funny things I never thought about. Firstly, they made two different doughs, one conductive and another one insulating with the help of guides can be accessed at [add a link]. The conductive dough was the one which is resistive. After making the conductive dough, it is easy to make resistor out of it. You can simply take a portion of it and use it in a circuit as an actual resistor. Afterward, kids used an insulating dough as a spacer between two pieces of conductive dough in order to make a capacitor. It worked, but the insulating dough seemed to be conductive, and it was not expected in our experiment, need to explore more.

What happened next!

All nine teams (two kids each team) have completed the first challenge of making resistor and capacitor out of doughs while experimenting with Squishy Circuits. Kids have used Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs and buzzers as the loads of their experiments.  I was so happy to see their faces smiling and they were pledging that they can do things with doughs they made. My reactions were “sure, floor is yours, let do it!! We shall have an exhibition session to see what each team is going to make.” They started testing out some sort of robotics and I was murmuring “what crazy are these kids?” Yes, they were mad explorers and innovators, and tinkerers, see what some of them just made.

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As they were promised to have exhibition in order to show the whole class what they have made, all teams have been asked to bring their creations on one table. Each team got excited about their creation and they inspired me as well.

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Lesson learned from this activity: give students freedom to do anything and keep them time as you assist them throughout their tinkering activities.