Today our new book The Art of Tinkering, produced from The Tinkering Studio, is released to the public! Request it at your local book store or buy it online. Here’s a taste of what’s inside…
Did you know that playdough can be sculpted into circuits? Its saltiness makes it conductive—and you can use it to play with battery packs, LEDs, buzzers, motors, and more. Cook up some conductive dough and experiment with squishy circuits in this week’s #tinkeringtuesday activity.
Conductive Dough Recipe:
Mix 1 cup water, 1 cup flour, ¼ cup salt, 3 tablespoons cream of tartar, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, and some drops of food coloring in a pot over medium heat. Stir continuously as the mixture boils and thickens, and keep on stirring until it forms a ball in the pot’s center. Let it cool slightly and knead it on a floured surface until it’s nice and smooth. Store it in an airtight container; it will stay malleable for weeks.
Grab two lumps of conductive dough, and poke one leg of an LED into each one. Take the two leads of a battery pack and stick the positive one into the lump with the LED’s positive leg, and the negative one into the lump with the LED’s negative leg. See the light go on? That’s your first squishy circuit.
You always need a gap between your negative and positive dough lumps, so next try placing some insulating dough between them to divert electricity from the battery pack into your LED. This allows for more solid construction without any shorts. Insulating dough will also help you move on to more complex builds.
Insulating Dough Recipe:
Mix 1 cup flour, ½ cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a bowl. Then add up to ½ cup distilled water in tiny increments (about 1 tablespoon at a time) until the dough forms a cohesive lump. Knead in a little more flour until it’s easy to mold with your hands. Store in an airtight container.
Want more details or suggestions? This activity and over 150 more from artists and tinkerers are featured for you to try yourself in The Art of Tinkering, available now at http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/the-art-of-tinkering