Creative Circuit Making for All: Including People Living with a Disability

TapeBlocks are the accessible, affordable, versatile and creative circuit making activity and there is a version of TapeBlocks that is accessible so that anyone can explore circuits for themselves. They challenge people understanding of how to make circuits and who can make them. TapeBlocks combine technology with creativity to encourage everyone to play and explore.

What are TapeBlocks?

TapeBlocks are kids EVA foam blocks wrapped in conductive tape with electronic components inserted on top or underneath. It is one of those concepts that you come up with and then go - that is so obvious why did no one else think of it already. 

The Magic ingredient is the conductive tape that acts as the wire to make the connection between the components and the battery. The surface of the tape is electrically conductive, the glue is conductive too.

  • Foam block with two rows of conductive tape. A Battery holder is connecting the two rows of tape with a 3V button cell battery

    Power Tapeblock

  • Foam block with two rows of conductive tape. Color of the light is changing Red,Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple showing. Plus sign on the top row of Tape to indicate direction

    Light Tapeblock

  • Foam block with two rows of conductive tape. Fan in the middle of the block with wires under tape.

    Spinning TapeBlock

  • Foam block with two rows of conductive tape. One Row of tape is not continuous  as there is a button bridging the Tape

    Button TapeBlock

  • Foam block with two rows of conductive tape. Vibration motor in the middle of the block with wires under tape.

    Vibration TapeBlock

  • Red/Blue Light

Types of TapeBlocks

There are a range of TapeBlocks that can be made using the same method.Power TapeBlocks and a Light Emitting Diode (LED) TapeBlocks are a really good place to start. The pancake vibration motor is really useful because blind and vision impaired people can feel when the circuit is working (and people that don't like bright lights will find the vibration motor more engaging). There are all sorts of electronic components and experimenting that also work. I found you could create a variety of resistor TapeBlocks. The Light Dependent Resistor (LDR) was fun to play with in to introduce new concepts. I also found that  buttons could be inserted. Tilt switches are great fun because you can experiment with cause and effect in movements and making the connections. It is amazing what you can run off a 3V button cell battery. The small drone motors are really neat and don't use that much power so they have been included in some of the kits.

TapeBlock Variations

As well as different types of TapeBlocks there are different ways of configuring the blocks to suit different needs and requirements. TapeBlocks are a really accessible making toolkit. TapeBlocks are a method that can be used as a starting point for creation and invention.  You can extend TapeBlocks by putting magnets in to hold the blocks together, it is viable and could be useful in some configurations but it makes them more difficult to make and adds some constraints. Some of the variations includes: Pre-Made TapeBlocks, Make your own TapeBlocks, Simple breadboard, Multiple components on a block, Multiple blocks taped together and Connect to a Micro-controller like a Micro:Bit using a banana plug.

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