Our Circuit Blocks have been iteratively designed through our work with young children in classrooms. Our design objectives have been to make components that are durable, reliable and easy for young hands to operate. Our system is visual and tactile, which helps children deepen their understandings through hands-on exploration, drawing, and explanation of learning. We are deliberate in our sequencing of content learning and are careful to not engineer out opportunities for mistakes and wrong connections - we believe it is of equal importance for children to understand, experience and explore why things don't work as it is to understand why things do work. We have three categories of components that support the framing question: "What do you DO to make HAPPEN?"
knife switch, push-button switch, toggle switch, rocker switch, potentiometer and photo cell. These correlate to the engineering concept of input, to which we transition in our third grade learning progression.
motor, light, LED, bi-color LED and buzzer. Likewise, these correlate to the engineering concept of output. It is important to note that the motor is supplied without anything attached to the shaft - this allows children to explore materials to attach and invent their own functions for the motors.
Batteries and wires are our essential components; every circuit needs these. The batteries are protected with resettable fuses to protect against short circuits. Our wires are specially designed with washers soldered to the alligator clips to increase leverage for small fingers (and give more surface area for connections as we begin building more complicated parallel circuits). The wires are made with super flexible 22 gauge wire for durability.
Our Circuit Blocks are manufactured locally from sustainably harvested Western Pennsylvanian hardwoods and are available for sale at our learning store. Sales support the continued development of our work in classrooms. With all materials, we embrace "play with real stuff" design philosophy of the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh, an important partner in the development of the Children's Innovation Project.