After "acting out" different types of circuits, students will create their own circuits using wire, a bulb, a battery and a switch.
One per student:
Background for Teachers
In order to create a current, electrons jump continuously from one
atom to another. Show a model of an atom and locate the position of the
Intended Learning Outcomes
1. Use Science Process and Thinking Skills
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles
4. Communicate Effectively Using Science Language and Reasoning
Invitation to Learn
Hold a D-cell battery up for the students to see. We are going to
discover how electricity flows by playing a game called Flowing
Electrons. Students become an electron moving in a circuit.
- Students sit in a large circle. Each person is given a Styrofoam
ball representing an electron. Their hands are atoms, and the
circle represents a pathway, or wire, that the electron must
- The teacher positions herself between two students, with the
box holding the extra electrons to the teacher's left. On the box
(battery) is a + sign at one end and a -- sign at the other end,
representing the two ends of a real battery.
- With the command of "pass," students pass the electron to their
right with their right hand. At the same time, students receive
an electron with their left hand. The teacher takes electrons from
the box. The student to the teacher's left passes electrons into the
box. Interject the word "and" between the word "pass" as
students move the ball from the left hand to the right, thus being
ready to hand the ball to the person on the right with the next
command of "pass." Don't drop the balls. Students can't pass
unless they receive at the same time. A person may never have more than one ball in each hand at a time.
- Balls can't be passed unless the receiving student is directly to the
right of the passing student.
- To play, students pass an electron with the command "pass."
They are acting out current electricity. The teacher's command
turns the flow of electricity on and off.
- To add a bulb, one person is chosen to represent a light bulb in
the line. When he receives an electron, he runs around the desk
before passing to the next person in line. The student must then
run back around the desk to receive the next electron. After a few
times of the student running, ask him how he feels. He should be
getting warm. Tell the students that the light bulb offers a
resistance to the flow of electrons, and is called a load. Anything
that uses electricity is a load. It slows the flow down, so the bulb
heats up and lights up.
- Introduce a switch by having three students sitting by each other.
At the command "off," move forward so they can't receive or
pass electrons. This is called an open switch because the wire has
been interrupted. Switch it on again or close the switch so the
electrons can flow in a circuit.
- Repeat the activity; this time students explain. Students return to
- Give each student a wire, bulb, bulb holder, battery and a switch.
They are to make:
- a complete circuit.
- an incomplete circuit.
- a closed circuit with a bulb.
- an open circuit with a bulb.
- After creating the different types of circuits, students design a Battery Book Cover and label it Energy Sources. Cut it
out and trace around it on four sheets of paper so students may
have a battery-shaped book. Staple the pages together at the top.
On page one, draw a complete circuit. Label the parts. Include
the vocabulary words pathway, load, and power source. On page
two, draw an incomplete circuit. Explain why it doesn't work.
Label the drawing. Draw a closed circuit with a bulb on page
three, and an open circuit with a bulb on page four. Label the
parts on both pages using the vocabulary words. Include the word
switch on the last two drawings. Explain the difference between
an open circuit and an incomplete circuit. Add any reflections on
the last page about any new discoveries about circuits.
- Give each student a Kit Kat that has a foil component to the
wrapper, a light bulb, and a battery. Have him/her make the bulb
light four different ways.
- Students write testable questions about other areas they want to
experiment with and present their list to their teacher for approval
and a supply of materials. Proceed with further experimentation.
- Students teach their families the Flowing Electrons activity.
- Make a list of the items that use electricity in their home during a
- Students learn How to Make An Electric Puzzle and are
quizzed on what they learned in the electricity unit. Have
students write ten questions with answers and cut them into two
strips or use the Electricity Puzzle Pieces. Place the
questions in one pile and the answers in another. Using a piece of
cardstock, center the circuit board worksheet and glue down.
Punch ten holes on each side by each question and each answer.
Place a paper clip over each hole (to hold their questions and
answers) and insert a brad. Flip the cardstock over and attach
wires to the brads from the back of the matching questions and
answers. Wire ends should be stripped of insulation covering
about 1 inch on each end before wire is wrapped around brads.
- To test the puzzle, unbend a paper clip. Secure it to the positive
end of the battery using a wide rubber band. Place a wire with
the copper ends exposed to the negative end of the battery and
tape it down with masking tape. Wrap the other end of the wire
around the metal connection on the bulb. Touch the end of the
bulb to the question side and the paper clip to the answer side.
When the bulb lights, you have a match.