There’s a new play idea called “Squishy Circuits" that’s coming from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota. They’ve developed a few different recipes for play dough that have shocking implications.
One of said recipes is for an electrically conductive play dough while the other of course is highly resistant to current (insulating).
This simple combination allows you to construct electrical curcuits entirely out of play dough. Professor of electrical engineering Annmarie Thomas gives her daughter this play dough and watches as she creates and designs parallel and series circuits that look like animals whose tails wag on motors she installed.
It’s not easy to introduce a field like electronics to children, but kids could surprise us if we make learning something they want to do.
[Photo of resistors, an electronic component with bands of color around the middle.]
Ways to tell your child is an autie #238:
Sie likes sorting resistors by color.
No — sie doesn’t just like it — sie loves it, sie thinks it’s a game, sie thinks it’s fun, sie thinks it’s a reward, sie has no idea that anyone could possible see it as tedious or busywork.
Sie will take a giant tangle of resistors as big as sie is, and sort it neatly into drawers.
Sie will always get super-excited when hir father tells hir, “It’s time to sort resistors now!” and gives hir a chance to do it.
These are the old kind of resistors, the kind with colored stripes. Sie can’t even read the colors to the numbers, but sie can sort them perfectly. Every time. And hir dad is thrilled that he doesn’t have to do all this extra work, because he has this weird offspring who will do it for him with cheer and excitement. But not too weird, given he’s autistic too and probably takes this sort of thing for granted.
(My father was an electronics technician for most of his career. He never had the schooling to be an engineer, but towards the end of his career he was promoted to engineer on sheer life experience and knowledge. As a technician, he did everything from fixing and designing electronics, to digging ditches for experiments. I really wish Anne could have his old job, which she’d be perfect for, but jobs that good don’t exist anymore, at least not in quantity. What Anne has that a lot of engineers and technicians don’t, is an ability to do anything as long as it’s hands-on, and that’s what my father had as well. So they didn’t just get used for the things in the job description, they were used for literally anything that needed doing, and that was actually kind of cool. I used to love going to work with my dad and watching everyone work. or getting my radiation badge and walking all the way down the linear accelerators, etc.)