Learning the Ropes With Electricityby: Sarah Carrier and Ted Rex

Journal ArticleDigital resources are stored online in your NSTA Library.

Students create a hands-on classroom model illustrating a closed circuit along with other activities that explore the flow of electricity through modeling.

• Elementary
3/1/2013

Community ActivitySaved in 1307 Libraries

Reviews (4)
• on Wed Nov 02, 2016 9:35 AM

This is an amazing article, and a great way to reinforce the flow of electricity. I'm definitely using this to start our unit. I won't give them as much guidance, but make it more of an inquiry lesson so they work through it as a team. Once we do that I'll do more with circuits and switches. I'll do more formal "teaching" at the end. I really love this idea!

Jennifer Basalari

• on Sun Mar 10, 2013 5:33 PM

Using the 5E model, authors provide an activity for 5th grade and above to begin building a base for learning about electricity in a “hands on/minds on” fashion. In the Engage part of the activity, students are allowed to discover what happens when given a bulb, a battery, and some wires. The teacher then models potential and kinetic energy using a piece of clay and relates this to how electrons flow, providing a scaffolding link between the two concepts. In the Explore portion of the lesson, students use a rope to illustrate than in order for electrons to move, there needs to be an external source of energy (the battery). This allows more discussion and vocabulary to be introduced while modeling an open and closed circuit. In the Explain section, the misconception of the battery “creating” electrons is discussed, while helping the students visualize the electric current flow. In the Elaborate part of the lesson, resistance in the electrical flow is introduced and explored. In the final Evaluate, or sumnative part of the assessment, students are asked to draw and label models of electric circuits in their notebooks. I found this article to be short and easy to follow. I felt it did exactly what it stated it would do; showing “A classroom model illustrating a closed circuit for advanced learners.” I recommend this article to all teachers beginning the foundations of teaching electricity and circuits for upper elementary students.

Sue Garcia

• on Sun Dec 04, 2016 4:27 AM

This resource was very informative in not only suggesting a lesson to use by listing the materials, but also providing different steps teachers could go about this topic to exercise their students’ knowledge about electricity. Throughout this article, the authors explain how to conduct the experiments according to the concept. For example, in order to display potential energy, the authors state that the teacher holds a ball of clay above his/her head and drop it. The teacher should continuously do this motion and ask the students why the clay falls when it’s let go. Once the teacher lifts the clay again, and as he/she lifts it about the head, the instructor should point out that when one releases it, the movement of the falling ball is clearly seen, but before it is let go, it has the potential to move. The potential energy within the clay ball changes to kinetic energy once the ball is released. The authors provide several, different experiments that teachers could utilize in their lesson and explanations that match them. The authors encourage to elaborate on the topic of electricity by leading into the concept of resistance. In addition, it’s also important to evaluate the activities and how the students comprehended the material.

Heejin Jeon

• on Tue Oct 29, 2013 10:56 AM

This article contains several activities in the study of electricity by building on knowledge learned from the previous activity. Students first experiment with bulbs, wires and switches, then they do an activity with simulating electricity through a circuit with a rope, and finally use straws and water to simulate circuits. After all of these activities student should be comfortable in their knowledge of electricity.

Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

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