Awesome Magic: Circuits @ Your Library

Take a deep breath. Before you start, throw your inner critic into a corner. Circuitry might seem technical and difficult, but it’s actually quite simple. Me and my history degrees are proof positive of that. Well, me, my degrees, and Bob. Last September I built a fully functional game of Operation, named Bob, out of a “life size” cardboard box. I had no training, just helpful people that helped me grasp the basic concepts. Now, my department of me has conductive tape, sewing thread, and pen ink. My message: if I can do this, you can too.

Start here:

Circuits can be that magical activity that captures kids and disguises learning as fun. I know this for certain after spending the better part of an hour understanding the library in a new, conductive way.

Those kids, the ones experimenting with the conductive nature of different things around them, are L E A R N I N GIf you’re reading this, kids…surprise! We used copper conductive adhesive tape, which is conductive on both the top and bottom. The circuit is completed by the myriad of supplies and other things that were tested.

But, why should kids (or anyone) learn circuitry?

If you turn on a light, use a computer, own a refrigerator, or rely on electricity for anything, then thank science. That same bit of science will grow more important the farther into the 21st century we travel. “But, Tiffany,” I can hear you saying, “my child/sister/friend/whoever won’t be working with tech.” It doesn’t matter! Anyone living today has been changed some way by tech.

Research shows that technology has changed our brains.Sherry Turkle, Director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self claims, “…we are all computer people now.” Her article How Computers Change the Way We Think offers several ways our psyche has been hacked by computers. We are now living in an age where Phantom Vibration Syndrome exists. It would stand to reason that computers have also changed our problem solving skills. Exposing preteens and teens (and Grandmothers and Grandfathers) to circuitry helps sharpen the new digital set of skills we are relying on more and more in the workplace.

Watching my 5th graders troubleshoot their circuit tape creations is like watching a whole set of gears pumping in sync. I am starting to see in them the same curiosity and willingness to try that must have fueled Thomas Edison’s 1000 different ways not to make a lightbulb. No, they may not get it “right” the first time, but as we keep saying, the proof is in the process, not the product.


Right now, I’m looking at projects for one of our Raspberry Pi 2 computers. There are great ideas over at CNET and IT PRO. Look for a detailed tutorial and program recap using Squishy Circuits! coming mid-week

As always, I’d love to hear what others are doing! Leave a comment below or tweet me @faythelibrarian!

Have a happy creative Monday!

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