General Science and Teaching

Closed circuit to create a light and sound

Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:31 AM

Many of the students could not wait to utilize the material to create a circuit were electricity flowed to create light. To help maximize time and allow them to focus on mostly the hypothesis and the experiment it's self, I helped pose the question and provided sentence frames for the hypothesis. Once the students were given the opportunity to write the hypothesis we reviewed the materials and procedure. The students were excited to start the experiment. Before they were allowed to start the experiment, I shared with the students the expectation of what the students needed to record for the data. I wanted them to record the materials they used, a diagram with labels, what didn't work and what did they need to adjust in order for it to work.

Amy Casey
Amy Casey
2360 Activity Points

Tue Oct 30, 2012 1:09 PM

Amy, what grade level were you working with? I have found that students of all ages get excited when they figure out how to hook up the light and battery so the light comes on - what a sense of accomplishment for such a simple (and fun) activity!

For my students, I would allow them to play with the wire, lightbulb, and battery in small groups and to have just a little frustration when it didn't work out as they initially thought before I would have a discussion on the meaning of the new word "circuit" and how it comes from the same root word as "circle". I would then encourage them to see if they could attach the parts in a circle to turn the light on and usually once one group figured it out the "spies" from other groups would share the new information and soon all the lights would come on - both literally and figuratively!

Research shows we will remember things better when we are emotionally involved, so I feel that the frustration makes the sense of success stronger and leads to students retaining the information longer. Plus, it is always good when we can provide them with examples of how a little frustration can still lead to answers instead of giving up and waiting for adults or "experts" to advise them - more ownership of the knowledge for the students.

So, what are you planning to do next? will you be able to let them design their own larger circuits to see how many different ways the electricity can "flow"? Wasn't it clever of Benjamin Franklin to chose an analogy our students can be so familiar with? :D
My students have always enjoyed being able to create new ways to connect the lights and we get to learn more new words like series, parallel, and very often short circuit - we also spend time tracing the path of the flow to see why some things work (they complete our circle) and others don't. I love teaching electricity - so much creativity and fun!

Does anyone else have fun ways to introduce electricity?

Tina Harris
Tina Harris
65560 Activity Points

Wed Oct 31, 2012 2:26 PM


One of my all time favorites is be make a simple DC motor using a battery, magnet, insulated wire and paper clips. Attached is some information and directions.


Arlene Jurewicz-Leighton
Arlene Jurewicz Leighton
41745 Activity Points

Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:34 PM

Amy, my middle school students were fascinated as well. I love Arlene’s idea of doing a motor.

The challenge I put before my students was to figure out a way to put a lot of batteries, (anywhere from 10 to 60), in either series or parallel , without holders, to make a small string of 6 to 20 Christmas lights work. It was fun to watch them problem solve how to get the batteries to stay in place and then find a way to hook the lights together so they will light up. They love using a digital voltage meter to determine the amount of energy flowing through their “creation.” It’s always a puzzling conversation when they calculate the number of batteries and the fact all batteries used are 1.5 volts and then match the number with the voltage meter reading and find out the numbers do not match. All of a sudden energy and energy loss becomes a whole new area of interest to them.

Sandy Gady
Sandy Gady
42980 Activity Points

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