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.
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.
Red and Blue Non-Polar
Color Change LED
Candle Flicker LED
Light Dependent Resistor
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.
You can make all sorts of characters with TapeBlocks. You can make soft fluffy characters. For those people who don't like the feel or mess of fur you can use 1mm foam to make dragons or trains. Make their noses or eyes light up or make them vibrate and purr. You can also make a light up house or village. TapeBlocks are creative and fun. The only limit is imagination. Make your own TapeBlock characters using the tutorials and inspiration videos
Who can use TapeBlocks?
TapeBlock aim to provide opportunities for everyone, especially people with disabilities. When you create something that is accessible, it often means that it is really easy for everyone to use. So TapeBlocks can be used by people living with a disability. They can also be used by children and in STEM engagement programs for under represented groups. TapeBlocks are a really versatile making tool that is not intimidating at all so they can help to give anyone the confidence to make circuits for themselves.
TapeBlocks for Individuals and Groups
TapeBlocks are a low cost and easy to make with nothing hidden so that anyone can make them with confidence. There is nothing hidden in the TapeBlock circuit and if you have the ability to cut and place objects and tape you can make them for yourself. This is great for group activities such as engagement sessions. Basic TapeBlocks can be made in a single session, there is no inserting wires in tiny holes or hot soldering irons to intimidate anyone. The other thing is that TapeBlocks are large and chunky they can be used for teaching online as the instructor can see what participants are doing and provide instructions.
CHOKING HAZARD - Small parts, button cell battery and sharp objects. Not suitable for children under 3 years or any individuals who have a tendency to put inedible objects in the mouth.
SWALLOWING HAZARD - Swallowing button cell batteries can lead to chemical burns, perforation of soft tissue and death. Severe burns can occur within 2 hours of ingestion. Seek medical attention immediately
Assembly Required - The TapeBlock kits do not come assembled as making them is part of the fun but some people may require assistance. They should be used in a way that meets the users needs. Batteries are not included with the kits because of restrictions on shipping.