How to Make Electric Play-Doh

Reading Time: 3 minutes

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Want to introduce your kids to electronics? Ditch the circuit boards and go with that sticky staple of early childhood: Play-Doh. The off-the-shelf variety isn’t conductive enough, but adding the right amount of salt and cream of tartar to your homemade version lets you create circuits, illuminate LEDs, and even make motors spin!

1// Make the insulating dough
Mix 1½ cups flour, ½ cup sugar, 3 Tbsp. vegetable oil, ½ cup distilled water, and food dye in a medium-size bowl. Stir until doughy. Turn out onto a flour-coated surface and knead.

2// Cook the conductive dough
Mix 1½ cups flour, ¼ cup salt, 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, 1 cup tap water, food dye, and 3 Tbsp. cream of tartar in a pot over medium heat. Stir constantly until the dough thickens. Lay out on a floured surface to cool. (Keep small fingers away—it’ll be hot.)

3// Complete the circuit
Sandwich a piece of insulating dough between two balls of conductive dough. Insert the terminals of a DC power supply (one that takes two AAs or four AAAs, available at electronics shops) into each conductive piece and join them with an LED. Let there be light!

Refrigerate the dough in plastic bags for future experiments.
Developed at the University of St. Thomas School of Engineering

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