Review: Squishy Circuits

Programs, Reviews, Squishy Circuits
Squishy Circuits Kit

Squishy Circuits Kit

While not technically a robot, this is a good project to begin explorations. It helps participants understand some critical basic concepts about electronics: conductivity, resistance, that kind of thing. It is inexpensive, and works well with a surprisingly wide age range.  The TED Talk below the jump explains it in about 4 minutes.

Robot Basics:

  • Squishy Circuits 

  • How did we get it?

    • This review focuses on the concept rather than the product itself. I used wire and LEDs that I had at home and purchased batteries with my own money.
  • What’s in the Box?

    • 1 – Recipe Card
    • 1 – Motor
    • 1 – Piezoelectric Buzzer
    • 1 – Mechanical Buzzer
    • 1 – 4 AA Battery Pack (batteries not included)
    • 25 – LEDs in Red, Green, White, Yellow and Blue.

If you want to avoid the kit and DIY, the items can be purchased piecemeal at a Radio Shack or other similar stores.

  • How much?

    • $25 for the kit
    • Additional $10 to buy simple grocery store ingredients for dough, though you likely have them on hand already
  • Age Range?

    • I’ve run this program with kids as young as 4 and as old as 13. All found it fun and engaging, but the attention spans, interest levels, and the level at which we could discuss the concepts varied.
teen boys playing with squishy circuits

Using the multimeter and squishy circuit skills

 

Ideas for use

  • time involved

Making the dough will take some time, possibly time at home if your library doesn’t have kitchen facilities as the conductive dough needs to be cooked on a stovetop. It’s not very time consuming, but plan for an hour of your time at home to do this, just to be on the safe side.

Setup is fairly minimal once at the program site.

This program could work in a variety of time frames – everything from being availible on a table as a self-directed program, or with more staff involvement as a traditional one hour program.

  • one-time or recurring program

    • Either; if recurring, you could step through the many different activities included, or segue into more complex electronics and robotics programs.
  • extension activities

  • skills you need

    • none
  • other tools you need

    • pot, stovetop, bowl, spoons, food coloring, flour, salt, sugar, cream of tartar for cooked dough and plastic bags to store them in. Table covers for program area. A multimeter is a fun extra tool to have and can be gotten cheaply.

 

Good stuff

This is a simple, inexpensive, flexible, easy to understand project.

Frustrations

Honestly, none.

 

Ending Thoughts/Observations

I would highly encourage libraries to try this out. When I tested it with three middle school boys, I was pleasantly surprised to see that each of them explored the material in his own way, focusing on different capabilities of the kit. One built a battery, one took advantage of the “squishy” aspect and built an elaborate electrified dough contraption, and the third mainly explored the multimeter. In the end, each of them helped the other with his chosen project using the skills he learned in his own explorations. It was library magic!

Overall Rating:

Advertisements

4 thoughts on “Review: Squishy Circuits

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s