Kids today may have embraced games like Minecraft as their creative outlet of choice, but older generations still have fond memories of building with play dough. Now, a startup called Tech Will Save Us is trying to update the classic modeling material by giving it an electronic twist, using conductive dough to teach kids how to create basic circuits with lights, sounds and movement.

Aimed at kids between the ages of four and seven, the Dough Universe is made up of three kits containing special electricity-conducting dough to let the crazy clay creations light up, make some noise or get moving. Each one also comes with cookie cutters, a controller that gets the juice flowing, and an iOS and Android app full of instructions, ideas, stories and games.

With the Squishy Sounds Kit, kids can make their own keytars, drums and pianos, which produce different sounds based on how thick the clay is. Kids hook the dough up to each leg of the controller, and then hit it with a "sound helper" on a cord. Three different sound modes create a cacophony of plink-plonks, buzzes and beeps.

The Bright Creatures Kit is all about lights, with recipes for making dragons with fire-breath that lights up, snakes with flashy scales or glowing penguins. And the Electro Machines Kit comes with a device that spins when connected to power, allowing kids to make cars, robots, helicopters and what the team calls a "High Five Machine."

The idea of the Dough Universe sets is to get kids interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields, which are among the fastest-growing job sectors.

"Sixty-five percent of kids currently in primary school will have jobs that don't yet exist," says Bethany Koby, co-founder and CEO of Tech Will Save Us. "We believe that kids deserve toys, which will provide them with the skills that will help prepare them for the future. We hope that the Dough Universe will inspire our youngest generation to embark on a lifelong love of learning. As a parent myself, I feel it's important that toys be educational and help children through key developmental stages, ensuring they're not just passive consumers of tech."

Tech Will Save Us is currently seeking funding for the Dough Universe on Kickstarter, and so far the campaign has raised almost US$9,000 of its $50,000 target, with 29 days remaining. Super early bird pledges start at $40 for individual kits, or $100 for all three. If all goes to plan, kids will be getting their hands doughy by November.

Check out the kits in action in the campaign video below.

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