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Exchange: Using Squishy Circuit Technology in the Classroom

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2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Vancouver, BC

Publication Date

June 26, 2011

Start Date

June 26, 2011

End Date

June 29, 2011



Conference Session

Thinking Outside the Box! Innovative Curriculum Exchange for K12 Engineering

Tagged Division

K-12 & Pre-College Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

22.672.1 - 22.672.9

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Paper Authors

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Samuel Abbas Johnson University of St. Thomas


AnnMarie Thomas University of Saint Thomas

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AnnMarie Thomas is an assistant professor of Engineering at the University of St. Thomas, and co-director of the UST Center for Pre-Collegiate Engineering Education. Her teaching and research focus on Engineering Design and K-12 Engineering Education. Prior to her appointment at UST, she was a faculty member at Art Center College of Design.

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Exchange: Using Squishy Circuit Technology in the ClassroomThis paper presents a curriculum utilizing squishy circuits as an educational tool.Squishy circuits are constructed with conductive and insulating play dough. Thisallows students to sculpt their own circuits. Students are taught in a hands-onexercise, using batteries and basic electronic components (light emitting diodes,DC motors, buzzers, etc.). With this curriculum, electronics and circuit buildingconcepts can be presented at a much younger age than with traditional methods,and there is no need for soldering irons or proto-boards. Some of the fundamentalconcepts that are explored include: electrical resistance, Ohm’s Law, series andparallel circuits, current flow in a circuit, diodes, and batteries. Squishy circuitsalso allow for some chemistry to be taught. The conductive dough is a salt-basedionic substance. This allows for students to be introduced to electro-ionic currentand electrolysis. More advanced applications, such as coupling the dough with amicroprocessor, will be discussed.This paper will present recipes for both the conductive and nonconductive dough,as well as exercises that can be used in the classroom.

Johnson, S. A., & Thomas, A. (2011, June), Exchange: Using Squishy Circuit Technology in the Classroom Paper presented at 2011 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Vancouver, BC.

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