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Welcome to the final installment of NEF’s Summer Energy Series! If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for our teacher newsletter to join our teacher community and receive access to more energy-focused STEM activities. In June, we harnessed the sun’s energy with a DIY solar oven, and in July, we went for a spin with homemade anemometers. This month we are going to have some electrifying fun by making electrical circuits with salt dough.

As always, you can follow the list of suggested materials and steps or try it on your own and see where your imagination takes you. You can also watch to video at the bottom of the instructions for extra help.

Build Your Circuit

Energy Concepts
  • Electric Current
  • Energy Transfer
  • Conductor/Insulator
  • Electric Circuit
Suggested Materials
  • Salt dough
  • 9V batteries
  • 9V battery clips with red and black cables
  • 2V LED miniature lightbulbs
  1. Attach the battery to a battery clip with red and black cables. The red lead is the positive terminal and the black lead is the negative terminal. 
  2. Get creative! Create at least two salt dough structures for the electricity to flow through. Make sure that your dough is not touching, or the LED will not light. 
  3. Place the black lead to one of the salt dough structures and the red lead in the other dough structures. 
  4. Connect the salt dough structures with the LED bulbs. Make sure the positive (long) leg of the LED is closest to the red lead and the negative (short) leg of the LED is closest to the black lead. Watch the bulb light up!

Circuits make it possible to have electricity available in our homes at the flip of a switch. Aluminum, silver and copper are excellent conductors that allow for the flow of electricity. In this activity, the salt in the dough acts as a conductor allowing the electricity to flow through the circuit. Want to continue the fun? Try switching out the salt dough for other conductive materials or add some insulating materials (ex. plastic, cloth) and see if you can still produce an electrical current. 

We’ll be posting energy topics related to this activity on social media throughout the month to extend the learning. . Be sure to check out our previous Summer Energy blogs and connect with us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to tell us what you enjoyed about the experiment!