So I finally brought out the squishy circuit project. As expected it was a big hit with all the kids (even the ones who have been too cool to participate).
After explaining the basic concept of how the thing works and what will cause a short circuit the kids went off trying to find different ways to make it work as well as trying to find as many ways to short circuit the thing as humanly possible! I was glad to see the willingness to see what the materials could do. I tried to be as hands off as possible, only instructing that the play-doh not be thrown (but it happened anyway) and that the play-doh not leave the table (but it happened anyway).
They hooked the play-doh directly up to the battery, hooked up the LED directly to the battery, put the circuits on their faces (believe me, I tried to get them to stop although I shared their enthusiasm for trying different things). One girl made two bracelets, one kid encased his fingers with the play-doh and lit the LED that way. The range of ideas was great, and the excitement lasted all day.
But after working with bits and pieces of cardboard, tape, markers, etc, I was really happy to work on a project that took about a minute to clean up afterward. This was the perfect thing to lead into the Connected Messages mural project we’re getting started with here in Philadelphia as it involves teaching the basics of simple circuitry.