Everyday Engineering: Holiday blinkersby: Richard Moyer and Susan Everett

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Many examples of engineering go unnoticed because they are so much a part of our daily lives that we rarely give them much thought. When you decorate your house with holiday lights, you probably do not think about the engineering that was needed to produce them. This article provides a short history of holiday lights, examines how current flowing through a bimetallic strip causes lights to blink on and off, and includes the 5E inquiry lesson: Making a switch from a bimetallic strip to create a blinking bulb.

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Reviews (3)
  • on Wed Sep 07, 2016 12:33 AM

I particularly enjoyed this journal because it represented how to involve all of the 5 E's (engage, explore, explain, extend, evaluate) by asking questions, having discussions, or showing how to direct the students through the lesson. This lesson is for a unit on engineering and has the students use a bimetallic strip as a switch to make their own blinking Christmas lights. It is an interesting hands-on lesson that will really engage the students.

Allison VanDeventer
Allison VanDeventer

  • on Mon Mar 25, 2013 10:27 AM

This article gives a great 5E lesson on how blinker lights work using a bimetallic strip. Students investigate blinking lights and regular lights to compare the differences and then go on to explore the bimetallic strip in detail. This is a good lesson to show how engineering leads to innovation.

Betty Paulsell  (Kansas City, MO)
Betty Paulsell (Kansas City, MO)

  • on Wed May 18, 2011 10:07 AM

Through this 5E activity students will explore a bimetallic strip to see how they create blinking light for Christmas lights. Students will apply knowledge of simple series and parallel circuits to create their own switch with a bimetallic strip. Along with the parts of the 5E lesson students will learn that different metals expand and contract at different temperatures and therefore learn something about the physical properties of metals. This is a great lesson plans to introduce and engage students to circuits.

Adah  (San Antonio, TX)
Adah (San Antonio, TX)

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