Tech Will Save Us describe their kits as, “So fun, they’ll never see the learning coming.” From the moment we opened the kits to when we finally tidied them away, learning didn’t cross my mind. The girls were immersed in their own little world of imagination. Creating little stories in pop-up scenes complete with dough sharks, dragons and submarines. Telling tales of fairies, enchanted forests and unexplained lights. And almost as a side issue, they were creating electrical circuits to illustrate their imaginary worlds.
About Tech Will Save Us Electro Dough Kits
Each Electro Dough kit has a different theme. We tried out the Project Kit (£29.99) and the Story Kit (£19.99). Every kit contains the electro dough itself, which is like play dough and it conducts electricity. It’s an ingenious way to explain electrical circuits to little ones without it seeming even slightly complicated. Better still, you don’t have to explain it yourself because Tech Will Save Us do it all for you.
As soon as you open the box, you’ll find a small instruction leaflet. It directs you to get online and access their website. Here, every step of the process is explained in a logical way that’s easy to follow. Before you start with the projects, you make a basic circuit with two pieces of dough. This demonstrates how the circuit works so that the stories and projects become simple.
Once you’ve mastered a basic circuit, you can choose a project or story from your kit. Children can register themselves online to collect badges as they work their way through each Electro Dough Kit. The Story Kit works purely on light, whereas the Project Kit introduces sound as well.
Our experience with the Electro Dough kits
One rainy afternoon, I received a phone call from school to say that they were closing due to flooding. It was the perfect opportunity to try out the Electro Dough kits. The girls chose the Story Kit first and worked their way through the submarine story. The videos were so self-explanatory that the only thing I needed to help with was pushing up some bits of cardboard to create the scene. From there, the girls got on with it themselves. They were incredibly proud to make the scene, tell the story and make the light come on at the appropriate time.
Once this was done, they were ready to get into the Project Kit. They created a snake each and connected them to the battery pack, attached lights and touched their heads together to light up. Then it was time to make them dance so the snakes could create their own disco with their light-up outfits.
Next, we moved onto the sound machine. This was a really interesting one because it suddenly became more pertinent to understand how to break the electrical circuit. Once the sound machine was complete and they pushed the two bits of dough together to create the circuit, the noise was quite ear piercing. For a split second, neither of them knew what to do. Fingers went to ears and the two of them stared, horrified at their sound machine. Then suddenly, they both leapt into action. They’d realised that if they broke the circuit, the noise would stop. I think that really reinforced all the surreptitious learning they’d done.
Going it alone with electricity
The afternoon went by in a flash while we were playing with the electro dough. When I realised it was time to cook dinner and asked the girls to put the dough away, they were gutted and asked if they could carry on without me. So, I said they could carry on as long as they didn’t ask me for help. After all, cooking with dough on my fingers wouldn’t really work.
So, the girls went back to the Story Kit to create the dragon story. They sat happily playing, creating the scene, characters and circuit. When their dad arrived home, they explained how the circuit worked to him as well. Reviewing anything is always about being there with the children to see how they get on with it. However, the most telling part was probably the bit they did without me.
I like the fact that not only are the kits educational but they’re so much fun that they don’t want to stop playing. I also really appreciated the step by step instructions and explanations. It allowed them to do it without my intervention, but it also gave me some confidence as well. It has been a long time since my basic physics knowledge was put to the test. The idea of explaining it all to the children and guiding them through it made me a bit nervous. As soon as we got into it though, I realised I needn’t have worried. The learning is fully integrated into the process and my input wasn’t required.
Free play with electro dough
Once the girls had got to grips with the electro dough and what it could do, they started making up their own stories. Libby tried combining the light and sound. She was delighted to create her own sound machine that lit up as well.
Lia really took to making things out of dough and decided to make a whole family of hedgehogs. Once she’d done that, she practiced connecting them together in a circuit to light them up. Then, she asked if we could go on an adventure. We took her hedgehogs, the battery pack and a few lights onto the hills just before it got dark. After playing for a while, it was dark enough to turn the light on and make some magic.
How long do the electro dough projects take?
Each kit contains several projects or stories to create. When you look online, it tells you how long each one takes. The quickest ones only take five minutes. My girls are aged 5 and 7. Both wanted to do as much as possible themselves, with brief interludes for arguments over who would do what. This meant that each project took a little longer than anticipated. It took longer still when they did it completely alone without me sitting with them.
We didn’t do all the projects or stories, so we’ve put them away for another day. Even if we’d done them all in one sitting, the kits can be used again. The dough comes in pots that can be sealed back up. I put our small cardboard bits in a bag and wiped the dough off the wires and lights. We’ll be using it again really soon.
To find out all the fun, educational things on offer from Tech Will Save Us, head to their website.