Electric Play Dough

Posted by PBS Parents on

Looking to amp up the fun and have the kids learn something about electricity? Give this electric play dough experiment a try. It’s simple, hands-on and the kids will l-o-v-e it!

In this episode of Adventures in Learning, the kids have a blast with a cool project developed by AnneMarie Thomas of the St. Thomas Lab at the University of St. Thomas. Dr. Thomas and her researchers wanted to introduce circuits to young kids. In their research they discovered that salt dough was a great conductor and sugar dough was a solid insulator.

dough.jpg

Want to give it a try?

What You’ll Need

You can find the last three items on the list at an electronics store or you can order a kit online at squishycircuitsstore.com.

If you’re assembling everything yourself, pick up some spade terminals while you’re at the store and crimp them to the end of the wires. Click here to see how. Let me assure you, if I can do it, anyone can. Honestly.

How to Make Circuits

Once you have all the materials, let the kids sculpt, play and create! Use this activity to talk about electricity and how conductive materials allow it to flow freely, while insulating materials make it slow down or stop.

First, have the kids make a very simple series circuit. At its most basic form, the kids are forming a circle that allows the electricity to flow in one direction to light up a light. Start by having the kids take two pieces of conductive dough. Next, place a wire into each one making sure the two pieces of dough do not touch. Then have the kids close the circuit by placing a wire from an LED into each piece of dough. If the LED doesn’t light up, have the kids flip it around. LEDs only allow energy to flow in one direction. The kids have just created a series circuit!

Now have them remove a piece from the circuit, either take one of the battery pack wires out of the dough, or remove one of the LED wires. The light goes out. It’s a broken or open circuit. The energy can’t flow.

Have the kids close the circuit again. Now have them push the pieces of dough together. What happens to the light? They have a short circuit. To fix it, have them place a piece of insulating dough between the pieces of conductive dough. The light shines again.

While this activity is the ultimate in rainy day fun, it’d also be amazing at a birthday party. Pair it with a ‘take apart’ activity where kids use real tools to take apart old electronics to see how they work, and you have a STEM/STEAM dream party.

Want more ideas for inspiring Science Technology Engineering Art and Math projects? Check out these links…

More Adventures in Learning from PBS Parents


subscribe to education email updates food blog link image learning blog link living blog link news and information blog link science and technology blog link sports blog link image

Fun activities and projects for kids, educational resources for parents and teachers, and links to SDPB and PBS learning media!

Visit SDPB's Education Site!

Related content from SDPB Radio

In The Moment ... Jill Watson On Guiding Students With Limited Or Interrupted Education

In The Moment ... October 16, 2017 Show 199 Hour 2 Jill Watson is Professor of English as an additional language and...

In The Moment ... Law School Compromise

In The Moment ... October 10,2017 Show 195 Hour 1 How should the University of South Dakota Law School address...

In The Moment ... Learning Chinese In Aberdeen

In The Moment ... October 5, 2017 Show 192 hour 1 In 2015, South Dakota was the only state in the country that didn...

In The Moment ... The Role Of Teachers In Mental Health Intervention

In The Moment ... September 28, 2017 Show 187 Hour 1 September is national suicide awareness and prevention month...

In The Moment ... SD School Of Mines & Technology Honors Program

In The Moment ... August 21, 2017 Show 160 Hour 2 A new Honors program at the South Dakota School of Mines and...