If you love doing arts and crafts with your students, this lesson plan is for you! Teach them about energy, electricity, and circuits as they build light-up sculptures, using something they are all familiar with—play dough! Clear step-by-step instructions are provided and no previous experience with circuits is required.
This lesson helps students prepare for these Next Generation Science Standards
- 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
This lesson focuses on these aspects of NGSS Three Dimensional Learning:
|Science & Engineering Practices
||Disciplinary Core Ideas
|Planning and Carrying Out Investigations. Make observations to produce data to serve as the basis for evidence for an explanation of a phenomenon or test a design solution.
||PS3.A: Definitions of Energy. Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents.
PS3.B: Conservation of Energy and Energy Transfer. Energy can also be transferred from place to place by electric currents, which can then be used locally to produce motion, sound, heat, or light. The currents may have been produced to begin with by transforming the energy of motion into electrical energy.
|Energy and Matter. Energy can be transferred in various ways and between objects.
Ben Finio, PhD, Science Buddies
This lesson plan was inspired by the Squishy Circuits project, developed by Dr. AnnMarie Thomas at the University of St. Thomas.
For each group of students you will need:
Electric Play Dough Kit
available for purchase from our partner
Home Science Tools.
- 4xAA battery holder
- Piezoelectric buzzer
- Jumbo LEDs (25 total — 5 each in red, green, white, yellow, and blue)
- White insulating dough (3.5 oz)
- Red, blue, and green conductive dough (3.5 oz each)
- AA batteries (4, not included in the kit).
- Optional: in addition to the dough included in the kit, you can make your own conductive and insulating dough (for example, if you want other colors). See Electric Play Dough Recipes for materials and directions for making your own dough. You can also use store-bought
(replaces conductive dough) and modeling clay (replaces insulating dough).
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this lesson plan.
Electricity, energy, circuit, conductor, insulator
- Understand the difference between conducting and insulating materials
- Demonstrate how to build a closed circuit while avoiding short or open circuits
- Understand how a circuit can convert electrical energy into light energy