Squishy Circuits: An electric lesson for younger youth and children
Use a simple circuit to light up some LEDs using “squishy circuits” to talk about sharing God’s love with others. What are “squishy circuits” you ask? Squishy circuits are two specific types of homemade dough that you can use to create simple electrical circuits. You will need to create both a conductive dough and an insulating dough. Check out this link for the complete formula. For a very spunky description of squishy circuits be sure to see the video below.
Just like a circuit, God’s love flows through us to others.
What you will need:
I put my group into teams of 3 and then gave each team the following items. So you will need one set of these items for every group of 3 you will have. You can order they Squishy Circuits Kit or you can just pick up all of these things at Radio Shack.
- 9-volt battery
- 9-volt battery connector thingy (I don’t know what these are called, but you can buy them at radio shack and they snap onto the top of a 9-volt battery and have two leads coming out that connect to the dough)
- 3 or 4 LEDs
- jumper wires (little wires that can connect the circuits)
- Ball of conductive dough
- Ball of insulating dough
- You can also get a couple of cheap switches if you want to give students more to experiment with
- Ask: Does anyone know how a circuit works?
- The basic idea of a circuit is this. Free electrons flow from the emitter through the circuit.
- Take a few responses and then set up a simple circuit in front where everyone can see. (Using the alligator clamps connect a resistor to the shorter lead of the LED. Clamp the other side of the resistor to the black wire (-) side of your battery connector. Clamp the long lead of your LED to the red wire (+) coming from your battery connector. If everything is connected you should see your LED light up. (LEDs have polarity so make sure the long leg is running to the positive terminal).
- Ask: What happens when I take one of wires off the battery? Since it is connected to the battery why doesn’t it stay lit?
- In order for a circuit to work it needs a complete path. The electricity won’t flow unless the circuit is closed.
- Point out which dough is conductive and which is insulating. You may also want to give some general pointers about the positive and negative side of the LEDs and that the conductive dough can’t touch or the light won’t light up.
- If possible play the video above (from the Mini-Maker show) as a way of teaching your students how to make circuits.
- Say: Your mission is to make a complete circuit and light up your LED using the materials provided
- Give students some time to make a few circuits. You may want to encourage them to make some of the more complicated circuits that you find on the links above.
- After everyone has had a chance to play with the circuits disconnect the lights.
- I would suggest moving to another location or cleaning up everything before you try to do the lesson, the squishy circuits can be a pretty big distraction.
- Direct students to turn to John 15:9-12.
- Call on a volunteer to read the passage.
- Ask: According to verse 9 how had Jesus loved His disciples? (As the Father has loved Him)
- Ask: Look at verse 12 how does Jesus tell us to love others? (As He has loved us)
- So the picture looks like this. God loved Jesus. Jesus passed that love on to us. We then pass that love on to others.
- Just like a circuit God’s love should flow through us to others.
- The question we have to ask ourselves is are we being conductors of that love or are we insulating others from the love of God.
- Pass out a sheet of paper with the word conductor on one side and insulator on the other
- Have students think back over the course of this past week and write actions that they did that either demonstrated Jesus’ love (conductor) or kept people from seeing God’s love (insulator). For example they may write that they shared their lunch with someone on the conductor side and that they were mean to their sister on the insulator side.
- After a couple of minutes ask students for ways that they can be conductors of God’s love this week.