A new Kickstarter project called Squishy Circuits could turn even the youngest children into circuit designers. While there are already several fantastic educational toys for aspiring engineers on the market, this kit is unique because it is simple and accessible to children as young as three years old. The product’s creator AnnMarie Thomas points out that prototyping boards and soldering irons are simply not designed with small children in mind, and they can be frustrating for little hands.
The idea behind squishy circuits is to use play dough and a few inexpensive components to teach kids how to make basic electrical circuits. Children build whatever they imagine with two different kinds of dough—a salty, conductive version and a sweet, insulative dough. Then by adding a two-lead battery back and some LEDs, they can light up their creations. With this simple setup, parents and teachers can help kids learn basic concepts of electrical engineering, such as how to prevent short circuits. Kids can also add buzzers or motors to make sculptures that spin and make noise. By making more complicated designs, kids could start to grasp more advanced concepts, such as parallel and series circuits or learning about electrical load by watching the lights dim as many components are added to the design.
The Kickstarter campaign seeks backers for commercial kits that have everything you need, but the project is also open source (including recipes for the dough), so it would also be easy to make a homemade version. The campaign has already surpassed its $30,000 goal, but it remains open until May 24, 2016.