We first learned how to make Squishy Circuits at the World Maker Faire (2011) at the New York Hall of Science. Squishy Circuits are a project of the Thomas Lab at the University of Saint Thomas to teach children about circuitry and electronics. Squishy circuits are made with conductive and insulator dough. The conductive dough includes salt and cream of tartar, which enables it to carry electricity to light emitting diodes (LEDs), just like copper wire, or power a motor or buzzer when connected to a battery pack. The dough can also be used to build batteries – similar to the lemon battery experiment only cooler!
Our world’s longest squishy battery is featured in a chapter of a “Design, Make, Play” book from the New York Hall of Science (2013). In general, we’ve found that the battery will light an LED and even power a buzzer when 8 “cells” of conductive dough are connected together by copper and nails. The insulator dough forces the electricity to run through the wires and nails, generating 1.5 volts or more of electricity needed to power the lights and buzzers.
For recipes for the dough, ideas on how to build squishy circuits and batteries, visit the Squishy Circuits web site at http://courseweb.stthomas.edu/apthomas/SquishyCircuits/.
Substitute Slime for Squishy Dough
One of the challenges we’ve had in making the squishy dough in schools is that the recipe on the Thomas Lab site calls for cooking the conductive dough. In order to develop a more Maker Kid friendly version for schools, we began experimenting with different dough recipes. Try this. Substitute Gatorade for water in a standard slime recipe (see below). The electrolytes in the Gatorade carry the electricity through the slime to power LEDs.
Boron is the fifth element on the periodic table. It’s useful when it’s laundry time and a crucial ingredient in everyone’s favorite slime. Put borax in water and mix it with glue to get the gooiest plaything. It’s fun by itself or a gooey substitute for conductive dough when making Squishy Circuits.
Tools and Materials: Paper bowels, cups, measuring cup and teaspoon. Borax, white glue, food coloring and water (or Gatorade if making a substitue for Squishy conductive dough).
Make Solution A.
Pour the glue into the cup.
Add ½ cup water to the cup and stir the water and glue together.
If desired, add food coloring. Otherwise, the slime will be an opaque white.
Make Solution B. In a separate bowl add 1 cup of water and borax powder and stir this mixture together.
Slowly stir the glue mixture (Solution A) into the bowl of borax solution (Solution B).
Place the slime that forms into your hands and knead until it feels dry. (Don’t worry about the excess water remaining in the bowl.)
The more the slime is played with, the firmer and less sticky it will become.
Place in a plastic bag and refrigerate slime after making to avoid mold.
Squishy Circuit Store: http://squishycircuitsstore.com/
Squishy Circuits on TED: http://www.ted.com/talks/annmarie_thomas_squishy_circuits.html