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Fun Fact Friday: What are your favorite conductors?

February 15, 2019

Last week over on our Facebook educator group, Michael Carroll (inventor at Scrappy Circuits) posed this question...

 

What are you favorite conductors to use with MakeyMakey and your students? Any unexpected ones? I’ll get the list started with aluminum foil.

(I ❤️ foil).  


This lead to some interesting teaching ideas AND surprising conductors! We thought we'd share the list with you for #funfactfriday and invite you to share your favorite conductors in the comments. (We now have commenting available thanks to Disqus!)

Teaching Ideas

Tom Heck, our VP of Education Initiatives, mentioned that this is one of his favorite projects with students. He tells students, "Let's create a list of our favorite conductors! Start bringing stuff in this week and we'll test it."  He says it is always fun to see what the students bring in to test.

 

 

Conductors to Buy

  • Copper tape (also known as slug tape) available at Adafruit and Sparkfun and Amazon. Make sure you buy this with conductive adhesive!
  • Conductive Fabric Tape is available in our Inventor Booster kit. Our instigator of fun, Colleen Graves, says she "prefers conductive fabric tape over copper tape because it has no sharp edges, it folds pretty, and it looks great!" (Colleen is a bit of a nerd about it.) You can get this along with other goodies in our Inventor Booster kit, or buy this at Adafruit as a stand alone product) This tape is used for laptop shielding so the adhesive is generally conductive!
  • Bare conductive paint is a speciality conductive paint made for use with electronics projects. It is available at Adafruit, Sparkfun, Amazon.
  • Pencil Lead and Artist Pencils, particularly pencils 6B or higher, are a great way to sketch circuits. All pencil lead is conductive, however, the higher the Lead number the more graphite will be produced on your drawing. The Inventor Booster kit includes a 6b pencil!
  • Brass paper fasteners are one of our favorite conductors often found locked away gathering dust in a supply closet. This old school office supply can be found at most office supply stores or Amazon. Make sure you get fasteners that are not coated, and if they are, you can lightly sand off the clear coating to get to the conductive metal! 
  • Binder clips are another favorite! You can buy these almost anywhere in any home office section. Most binder clips are made of all metal and are great for creating inventive switches! 
  • Kitchen Foil is a great way to make your own circuits! You can use aluminum foil and a glue stick to cut and craft your own circuits on the cheap!
  • Aluminum Foil Tape also known as HVAC tape is conductive. While this tape is readily available at hardware stores, the edges are very sharp! So if you use this tape, make sure to protect fingers by insulating the edges. In general, the adhesive on this tape is not conductive.

 

 

Surprising Conductors

These conductors might surprise you or not, but they will definitely wow your students!

  • Bananas, potatoes, gourds, tortillas, gummy worms, baby carrots
  • Play-Doh
  • Glasses of water, juice, water color, liquids. (Have you tried milk? or pizza sauce?)
  • Other Students
  • Potted plants, grass, leaves
  • Some of the printing on the side of cardboard boxes, Black Amazon tape, 
  • Educator Pedro Alonso, said he combines paint and copper powder to paint on the wall. Then he can play and program songs on his wall! 
  • Slime!
  • Humidity in the air can make lots of things accidentally conductive notes maker Jennifer Schank!
  • Art Educator Christopher Sweeney swears by graphite sticks and Protopasta conductive filament

What did we miss?

Do you have any favorite conductors we missed out on? Please tell us in the comments section of this blog!
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