Conductor vs. Insulator

Conductors and Insulators

Play Dough Tastes Salty


Conductors and insulators are opposites. Conductors do just what their name says - they conduct electricity. This means conductors make it easy for electricity to flow through them.

In a circuit, conductors are used to allow the electrons to flow from the power source to the load. Metals make good conductors. Copper is a great electrical conductor and is commonly used.

In Squishy Circuits, the colored play dough (not white dough) is used as a conductor. We use it to direct the electricity to whatever loads we want to power – LEDs, motors, beepers, and more. We can also shape the dough into any size we want which let’s us get more creative than just dough ‘snakes’.

Insulators resist the flow of electrons. Materials like rubber, wood, and plastic usually make good insulators.

Power cords are a great example of how conductors and insulators work together. The inside of a power cord is made of copper wires so that electricity can flow. The outside of the cord is made of rubber, insulating the wires and stopping the flow of electricity to places we don’t want it - namely our hands.


Creating a Conductor and Insulator Tester

Conductor and Insulator How To Diagram


1) Create a Simple Circuit with a battery holder, LED, and conductive dough. Make sure the LED is lit.

2) Break one of the pieces of conductive dough into two pieces. Notice the LED turns off because electrons can no longer flow because the circuit is broken. You have created a Conductor Tester and it is ready to use!

3)  Place an object between the cut pieces of dough. Lightly press to ensure it makes contact with both pieces.

If the LED lights up, the object is a conductor. In this example, we have a found out that a metal paperclip is a conductor!

If the LED does not light up, the object is an insulator. In this example, we have found that a plastic pen is an insulator.


Try other items such as coins, toothpicks, silverware, and more! Which ones are conductors and which ones are insulators?