An interactive booklet called Papier Machine is making beautiful STEM toys that are actually fun and accessible, by combining paper with electronic circuitry.
The booklet contains pages silkscreened with conductive silver ink that can be assembled to create six electronic paper toys. It also comes with two button cells, two metallic marbles, two piezo elements, and two sound components that can be reused with each interactive toy.
“Circuits hide a surprising narrative potential that we wanted to make visible.” Users can close the circuits by drawing them in with a graphite pencil, and play around with the pitch and volume of the sound.
Much like an Ikea assembly manual, there are no written instructions, only visual steps, so users aren’t limited by language. Pages are pre-cut, pre-folded, and glue isn’t necessary, as everything fits neatly together. You can erase the graphite lines and redraw them, which means you can play with Papier Machine as many times as you want, as long as you take good care of it. (It is paper, after all, so be gentle!)
Perhaps the most interesting thing about these toys is the unusual usage of materials that they employ. Paper with the incorporation electronic components rides the line between feeling like it’s something that could be homemade and something that would need to be assembled in a lab. I am interested in this narrative because it not only pushes the boundaries of a materials perceived application, but in a way, it makes the intricacy of electronics seem graspable, safe, and playful.
They also provide the opportunity for discovery with the inclusion of additional components that can be used in various ways across each of the toys. The graphite pencil presents the opportunity for the user to make the toy their own, define their experience, and be creatively expressive.
Papier machine could be a means of engaging people with electronic components in an educationally fruitful manner.