Looking for a program to capitalize on geekiness, 80s nostalgia, and DIY trends all at once? Or maybe your teens don’t care what program you do as long as they can break stuff? Try circuit bending. Circuit bending is the process of creating wild new electronic connections in all sorts of things that make sound–from keyboards to Speak & Spells.

All you need are a bunch of old electronic toys from your local thrift store, batteries, a soldering iron, and various electronic circuit components. If that sounds intimidating, don’t worry. Here are some links to get you started:

Online video tutorial (courtesy of MAKE)
Circuit bending pathfinder (again courtesy of MAKE)
Inspiration (you’ll see)

It’s a great program to get teens to open things up, experiment with their guts, and leave them brand new and quite interesting. And isn’t that how you want your teens to be thinking about the library?

About Joseph Wilk

I'm a teen library assistant with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh's Main location. Here, I'm the graphic novel and music librarian in addition to running anime, music, LGBTQ, incarcerated youth, and video programming. I'm happy to serve YALSA as a blogger, member of the Teen Tech Week committee, and as chair of the Music Interest Group. Otherwise, you can find me in da club.

5 Thoughts on “Circuit bend new life into old toys

  1. Kelly [Member] on March 24, 2007 at 7:53 am said:

    This is really neat-thanks for sharing!

  2. joseph wilk [Member] on March 24, 2007 at 12:08 pm said:

    Thanks, Kelly. I was inspired by a recent art club event that we had at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, in which one of my coworkers bought a bunch of paintings from Goodwill. This coworker had the teens paint over, paste onto, slice up, and generally transform them into new and exciting works that we are now displaying in our teen space.

    While I’m visually literate, I’m also visually clumsy. So, I thought I’d come up with a parallel idea that related to my area of expertise. It’s pretty amazing getting a Speak & Spell to go from “l-i-b-r-a-r-y CORRECT” to “)*&*^&F^*&%FDSG*&^%*&^FSDG%#*&)FDSG*@^FSGD*&@*.”

  3. Kelly [Member] on March 24, 2007 at 2:42 pm said:

    and they say a new language is being created with IM. Think what circuit bending can do!

  4. joseph wilk [Member] on March 24, 2007 at 2:57 pm said:

    Ha ha ha!

  5. a. fortis [Visitor] on March 26, 2007 at 8:29 pm said:

    Wow, I only wish there had been something like this when I was younger! When I was a kid I had one of those electronics-for-kids sets that you could use to wire a little push-key to either light an LED or make a sound–hardly the thing to make the world of electronics exciting.

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