Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Play-doh Circuits: Making a Dollhouse Nightlight

While looking for different electricity experiments I came across Squishable Circuits.  I thought that these were such a fun and easy way for little hands to play with a basic circuit.   Did you know that play dough could conduct electricity?   Neither did I!  Although Squishable Circuits recommends making your own conductive and non-conductive dough we used just regular store-bought Play-Doh to introduce the concept of completing a simple circuit.

Here is what you need to get started:


A 9V battery, a container of Play-Doh and an LED light.  We started by looking at the battery and talking about how it has a positive and a negative side and that to make electricity flow we needed a way to connect them so that the electrons (teeny tiny particles - smaller than a grain of sand) could run from the one side to the other.  We decided that maybe if we made some electric snakes (that are hungry for electrons) that it may help.  So we rolled two pieces of Play-Doh.


Our very hungry snakes stuck onto the battery.


Well this was a little disappointing as nothing was happening.   So we stuck an LED into the Play-Doh and Voila!  There was light!



She was soooo excited - Bug could not believe that she made a light glow and that she could touch the light!  Daddy was hurriedly called over to show him her special trick (PS - Daddy very kindly supplied the supplies for our activity).  But in doing so the light stopped working:


So we looked closely and noticed that our snakes were touching.  We had introduced a short circuit!  Bug quickly deduced that we needed to separate our snakes to make it work again.  

But what could we do with our circuit.  Seeing though it was almost bed time we made a night light for our dolls in our dollhouse.  The Play-Doh was great at holding onto the side and roof of the house and the dolls were so happy tucked up in bed.


Although I don't have a good picture - we turned off all the lights and the girls loved to see their dollhouse glow with the nightlight.  Many a doll was tucked into bed that night.

One side note is that when we took the Play-Doh off the battery there was some corrosion at the terminals.  I would recommend making sure an adult takes it all apart and carefully removes the battery.  Squishable Circuits comes with a battery clip that goes to wires and that may be a safer way to do this circuit activity.

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Supplies:

  • 9V battery
  • Battery clip (not used in this write up but recommended)
  • Play-Doh
  • LED light


Instructions:

  1. Attach the battery clip to the 9V battery.
  2. Roll 2 snakes out of playdough and attach to the ends of the battery clip wires.
  3. Insert the LED into the playdough (make sure the long end of the LED goes into the playdough on the positive side of the battery - if it does not light up try turning it around).
  4. Try and short circuit the system by having the playdough touch.
  5. Have fun molding circuits for play!


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