If you joined us at our Robo-Reboot meetup, you probably played with something resembling Play-Doh. We called them "Squishy Circuits" although "Sticky Circuits" would have also been accurate.

Curious? Read more about our experience after the jump.

Next month's project may get a bit noisy. If you want to play along, please bring a musical greeting card.

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I'll admit up front that I'm no expert on electricity. I remember playing with tiny lights and batteries when I was in sixth grade, and I was fascinated by it. I remember learning about parallel circuits, alternating current and voltage, but the meanings of those things have faded over time as I moved on to other things.

In my adventures with robotics, these terms and ideas have come back. I've become intrigued again, though when you're talking about robots, the learning curve looks steep. I'd like to bring it down to the simplest level for others to explore, so I cooked up some dough and brought it along to share with everyone.

As I introduced the project and started to get questions, I realized how unprepared I was to answer the more complex questions. I had to mentally remind myself that the red wire is positive, the longer LED leg is positive. Basic stuff. I should know this, right? (I Googled it just now to make sure.)

But I wasn't alone! A good segment of our group were investigating circuits for the first time, discovering an LED's polarity and figuring out how to make their sticky creations spin a motor or make a buzzer beep. One minute, I was hearing "I don't know anything, I can't do that" but with a little experimentation, LEDs were glowing in blobs of dough.

Others were trying to connect more complex motors and breaking out the multimeter to measure the resistance of the funky colored dough. (For those of you that had questions, here are more details about that: PDF: Electrical Resistivity of Squishy Circuits Study)

Our group contained a diverse set of skill levels and expertise, from tech professionals to children. In the end, I was really thrilled that this project was able to spark curiosity among everyone.

Check out the quick TED talk on Squishy Circuits, and I hope to see you next month!
~ Lindsey


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