Getting kids excited about things like electricity might be a little difficult these days. After all, when they have endless entertainment on YouTube (like, say, Justin Bieber getting hit by a water bottle onstage) why would they engage in such primitive forms of entertainment as making a simple circuit?
Conductive Play-Doh might not solve this conundrum, but it could engage kids who prefer a more hands-on approach to science. Samuel Johnson, an undergraduate at the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, developed a recipe for conductive modeling dough, which he dubs "Squishy Circuits."
To build a complete circuit, both conductive dough and insulating dough are required, along with a battery pack and LED light (or whatever else will be energized, like a small motor). It doesn't sound too exciting at first, but kids' eyes will probably start to light up when the food coloring and fun dough shapes get introduced.
Think blue space alien with LED light attached to the head.
Johnson, with the help of Ann Marie Thomas, is hoping that this more interactive form of learning will appeal to the interest of middle school students. Middle school students might be a little old for modeling dough (they're on YouTube, remember?) but this project will be well-suited for preschoolers and kids in grades K-5.
Making the Squishy Circuits dough involves ingredients like flour, sugar, salt, and cream of tartar. Check out the full recipes here.