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How to Make a Circuit Block

Circuit Blocks exist in many different forms throughout museums around the world.  A circuit block is a set of components, switches and power sources that can be tethered together to allow people to explore electricity in a safe and easy manner.  We have been building and facilitating circuit exploration for the past several years at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  Circuit Blocks have become a staple acti
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Soft Circuit Blocks

A few months ago I was introduced by my colleagues in MAKESHOP to the idea of using conductive thread to sew a circuit.  The concept is simple; instead of using electrical wires to connect your components and power sources you use a conductive type of thread.  This allows you to attach your electrical components to fabric.  This is a new way of exploring and understanding circuitry.  A sewn or soft circuit may, in so
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Camp MAKESHOP: Electronics

My day was dedicated to the exploration of electricity.  In the morning the kids got the chance to play with some of our existing circuit blocks.  We then gave the kids the chance to take apart a couple of old, broken electronic toys.  They had a blast during this activity.  We found a bunch of working switches and components (mainly speakers).   The kids and I then spent the remainder of the day constructing new cir
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Chain Reaction Machine

A couple of Saturdays ago we experimented with chain reactions in the workshop in MAKSEHOP. Dan, one of our MAKESHOP Educators, and I  spent the entire day building and adding to our chain reaction machine with any visitor who wanted to participate. We built our machine out of recycled materials, tape and some of our circuit blocks. Essentially our chain reaction machine was a series of ramps and ball that either kno
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Allen’s Birds

Most visitors who come into MAKESHOP spend most of their time exploring and tinkering with the materials. But there are is a group of return visitors who always seem to come in with a plan already in mind. Allen is one of those visitors. This visit he wanted to make a bird. Typically the first step with Allen is find the right materials to create his idea. He usually tends to use tape and recycled materials. He is at
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Allen’s Monorail

Another sewing story from the week involves my friend Allen (four years old) and his mom, two very regular visitors to the Museum. I have known Allen’s family since before he was born. He seems to have inherited his older brothers sense for planning. He comes in every week (sometimes twice a week) with his mom after preschool and he always has a plan for what he wants to make or explore. This week he wanted to build
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