Maker Experiment #1-Learning Theories

For our 3rd week blog, our instructors wanted us to look at how my Squishy Circuit kit could be added to my classroom through a lesson plan..  I also needed to look at the connection between our kit and learning theory(ies).

I work with 11th-12th grade special education students, primarily with learning disabilities and ADHD. The more I can get lessons to connect to my student’s previous knowledge or get them to use their hands, the odds are they are going to remember what they learn. Squishy Circuits provide the opportunity for students to get their hands dirty and learn by doing. It also provides different ways for students to learn about circuits other then a lecture.

According to Gardner (2003), multiple intelligences are the different ways of learning and process information.  Basically, Gardner wants people to ask “How do you Learn Best?”  Squishy circuits can incorporate different types of intelligences-such bodily/kinesthetic, spatially, linguistic and interpersonal- and put them into simple experiments. Integrating as many of the multiple intelligences will enhance the learning process for my students. For example-kinesthetic-students are using their hands to manipulate the dough and to put their circuit together.  They are also moving around by getting out of their desk. Visually/spatially-students are using this to put together their circuit. As students work with their peers on building the circuits, interpersonal intelligence helps them to respond other students. Squishy Circuits appeal to intelligences of all students.

Here is a 4-minute video that puts Gardner’s theory into a visual and simple explanation:

Meaningful Learning is when new knowledge acquired is related to previous learning.  In order for meaningful learning to take place, the new knowledge should be connected to the existing knowledge.  The integration of technology into the classroom can support meaningful learning if it is integrated correctly into the classroom. Just having the latest software or computer isn’t getting to support meaningful learning unless the teacher is knowledge able and comfortable using the technology given.  To provide meaningful learning in classrooms, schools should provide “technology-rich classrooms utilize multimedia to increase student interactions and enhance student learning (Keengwe, Onchwari, and Wachira, 81)

In research meaningful learning theory, concept maps were an idea that was cited over and over as a way for meaningful learning to take place.  Concept maps are not a new idea, they date back to the 1970s, but they are being used to create meaningful learning. Knowledge creation requires a high level of meaningful learning, and concept maps facilitate the process of knowledge creation for individuals and for scholars in a discipline (Novak 167-193) Squishy Circuits, like concept maps, provide the opportunity for meaningful learning to take place by providing the visual and hands on opportunities that my students need to get something out of learning. One needs to remember that my students all ready struggle with learning, if not provided with meaningful opportunities, they are going to pick up on what they need to learn.

A way to visualize meaningful learning:


Technology will always be changing, the goal of teachers should be to use their knowledge of technology and integrate it with their content and pedagogical knowledge to successfully integrate technology in their classroom. The role of the teacher in this new technological age is to serve as a guide for students. Teaching needs to remain student focused and not technology focused. The role of the teacher remains important s they provide opportunities for students to learn beyond the classroom.


McKnight, Heidi. Multiple Intelligences. 2011. Video. YoutubeWeb. 16 Jul 2013. <;.

Gardner, Howard. “Multiple intelligences after twenty years.” American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois 21 (2003).

Keengwe, Jared, Grace Onchwari, and Patrick Wachira. “The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning.” AACE journal 16.1 (2008): 77-92.

Novak, Joseph D. “Human constructivism: A unification of psychological and epistemological phenomena in meaning making.” International Journal of Personal Construct Psychology 6.2 (1993): 167-193.

Novak, Joseph D., and Alberto J. Cañas. “The theory underlying concept maps and how to construct them.” Florida Institute for Human and Machine Cognition1 (2006).

Squishy Circuit Board Lesson Plan

Time Needed:

Dough Making-approx 1 hour

Amount of time Demo takes: 3-10 min.

Building Background Knowledge

Go through pdf from  St. Thomas Squishy Circuit website


1. Squishy Circuit kit

2. Conductive and insulating dough (1 bag each-made ahead of time)

4. Battery cleaner – please regularly clean off any metal that comes in contact with the dough. This will prolong the life of the equipment.

Set up instructions:

1. Make material groupings for students to pick up and bring to their stations.

2. Emphasize safety with students. They are after all working with electricity and circuits.

Instructional Procedure

Making a simple circuit:

1.  Go through each of the materials being used in building the simple circuit.

2. Simplest Circuit (One LED)

The simplest circuit to build consists of an LED, battery pack, and  three small “snakes” of dough (two conductive and one insulating). To build this circuit, separate the two pieces of conductive dough  (purple) with a piece of insulating dough (white).

Now, insert each of the battery pack wires into the conductive dough. Do the same with the leads from the LED but be sure that the short end of the LED is inserted into the same piece of conductive dough that holds the black, or negative, battery pack wire. It is good practice to turn the battery pack off while you are connecting the components and to turn it on after you have finished setting up the circuit.

* To prolong the life of the equipment, please do not put the motors or lights directly in contact with the wires to the batteries. This will cause them to break they are not meant to hand the amount of voltage that is coming from the battery.

Clean Up

Clean up between demonstrations if needed. When completely finished gather all materials listed for this demonstration and make sure everything is accounted for. If something was used up, broken or damaged, let someone know so it can get replaced or fixed. Wipe down all metal parts that come in contact with the dough with a rag and battery cleaner.

Lesson Extensions-once students have mastered the simple circuit; the next challenge could be to have them build dough creatures. A link to how to build dough creatures with Squishy Circuits is included in references.


Dough creatures. (n.d.). Retrieved from

Thomas, A. (n.d.). Squishy circuitss. Retrieved from

Thomas, A. M. (n.d.). Squishy circuits lesson plan. Retrieved from 2012/Squishy Circuit Board Lesson Plan.pdf


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