chapter  6
14 Pages

Design Playshop

Preschoolers Making, Playing, and Learning With Squishy Circuits
WithKaren E. Wohlwend, Anna Keune, Kylie Peppler

In the hum of activity in a sunny preschool classroom, young children bend intently over their projects on the small table strewn with Squishy Circuit kits: maker kits for crafting working electric circuits with playdough “wires,” battery packs, and LEDs, fans, or buzzers. As they busily stick small white plastic light bulbs into playdough caterpillars, spaceships, and pancakes, the children squeal “It’s red!” or “I made a yellow one!” as each bulb lights up to reveal its hidden color. One 5-year-old boy, Nate, leans across the table to offer helpful advice to a younger girl whose circuit is not working. “I want to tell you one thing. If you put one [battery lead] into one [playdough] ball, it won’t work. You have to make two balls, and put one [lead] into one ball and other [lead] into another ball.” However, the child with the nonworking circuit wants to instead flatten her playdough ball into a pancake. Suparna, a 5-year-old girl whose caterpillar glows with colorful lights, chimes in, “I know! You have to have two. So make a big pancake and then put into two [halves] and then put that battery pack into both of them.”