circuit blocks

Our Circuit Blocks have been iteratively designed through our work with young children in classrooms, beginning in September 2010. Our design objectives have been to make components that are durable, reliable and easy for young hands to operate, including children's developing fine motor skills. 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?"

do components:

Knife switch, push-button switch, toggle switch, rocker switch, potentiometer and photo cell-- these are our DO components. These correlate to the engineering concept of input, to which we transition in later progressions of learning for older students.

happen components:

Motor, light, LED, bi-color LED and buzzer-- these are our HAPPEN components. 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. This raw motor component was uniquely developed by Children's Innovation Project through exploration with children where we learned how to best support children's language and logic around thinking about what they might do from the "happening" of the spinning of the motor shaft.

essential components:

Batteries and wires are our essential components; every circuit needs these. The batteries are protected with resettable fuses to protect against short circuits, also a unique design of Children's Innovation Project Circuit Blocks. In addition, 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-- Please email with any questions.

For more information about our research and program development since 2010, as well as curriculum design around thinking and learning ideas for children ages 3-12 (and extensions for older students), please contact us: