There are many ways to explore circuits which can extend beyond green plastic wires. Different materials and objects that are conductive (even you!), so we designed this page as an entry point to explore all the wonderful ways you can engage with making, and breaking, circuits in your world.
See everyday conductive materials in a new way by building them into working circuits.
Use paper and conductive tape to make light up cards, pop-up books, and more!
Wear your circuits, sew them using conductive thread, and let your bling shine!
Circuits + Familiar Materials
How can you incorporate forks, feathers, foil, clay, pumpkins, plants, rubber duckies, umbrellas, water, pots, pans, and other everyday materials into your circuits? Check out some inspiring ideas and possibilities below.
Why limit yourself to plastic knives and kitchen spoons when you can use power tools? Making your own Hack-o-Lanterns by adding LEDs, motors, and switches the next time you carve pumpkins.
"We don't usually think of our kitchen as an electrical engineering lab or little kids as circuit designers, but maybe we should." AnnMarie Thomas introduces squishy circuits using salt- or sugar-based PlayDoh recipes.
Musical gadgets that allow you to play music on any object. Playtronica is an international team of musicians that inspire creative play through making music.
Homemade Switches: This video shows all sorts of examples of building homemade switches that use everyday objects! Or take everyday object circuit explorations outside by learning how our team experimented with making a rain-sensing umbrella.
It's powerful to see the many ways to build and create circuits. We first learned about how to use copper tape and LEDs to create simple to complex circuit designs from Jie Qi (left), an engineer, artist, and cofounder of Chibitronics. With paper circuits, you can illuminate greeting cards, paper pop-ups, wall murals, and more with working, and sometimes programmable, lights. Check out our interview with Jie on her Tinkerer's page →
"I cofounded Chibitronics in 2014 to bring my research in paper electronics to the world in the form of construction toolkits, digital resources and creative communities." - Jie Qi
ScratchPaper was created after experimenting with Scratch, computational thinking, and paper explorations.
Electronic Popables: This pop-up book created by Jie Qi showcases a variety of aesthetic and narrative possibilities for paper and electronics.
Embrace Your Tools
Soldering is Powerful
We believe that real tools can empower learners of all ages to tinker and express a sense of ownership of what they are making. Soldering irons are one of our favorite examples of this, as they have the power to create a new circuit, fix a broken one, or strengthen a circuit design. Check out this video with tips and tricks on soldering with Lianna!
Tinker with textiles! What happens when you embed circuits in fabric and felt? These playful takes on circuits push the way we typically think about circuits in interesting directions and take advantage of materials like conductive thread. Make surprising circuits that can be wearable, unexpected, and adorable.
Sessile Handbag is a project made by Grace Kim that exemplifies her cross-disciplinary style, featuring barnicle-like circles of gathered muslin on to of a felted tote. More collaborations with Grace →
"I explore the electrical properties of materials and traditional and contemporary craft techniques." Hannah Perner-Wilson makes a variety of soft switches.
Light Painting Glove by Celeste Moreno
Light painting is a photography technique that uses long exposure photography to create a photo effect of making marks with light. Researcher and AIR Celeste Moreno explored new avenues of this work by creating a glove that allowed her to create new types of light painting with code.