Students will create an emergency flashlight using common everyday items.
The lives of most children are affected more directly by electricity and its applications than by just about anything else they learn about and investigate in elementary science. Simple circuits are the basic tools for investigating electricity at the primary level, and their basic properties need to be understood before attempting to use them to explore further. Students should have investigated making circuits, adding components to a circuit (such as switches, batteries and additional bulbs) and conductors and insulators. This activity would be best used as a culminating activity after these investigations have been conducted.
3. Understand Science Concepts and Principles.
Invitation to Learn
Give the students an Emergency Flashlight Kit: a brown bag with the following items: three Hershey Kisses™ (or a candy bar wrapped in foil…beware, some are now wrapped in paper treated with silver, but are not foil), a pencil, a piece of woolen cloth, a D-cell battery, a toothpick, and a small bulb. Tell the students they must make an emergency flashlight using only the items in the bag.
This activity is meant to be a culminating activity or even a performance assessment. DO NOT use this activity until the students understand and can make a simple circuit with a switch.
Working in groups of four to six, the students are going to design a subdivision, with each student making their own property with a house containing one light source and another outside light source. The neighborhood will also include one commercial-type building of their choice with two light sources.
An alternative activity that uses students making simple circuits is a quiz board. The students can make simple quiz boards by punching equal numbers of holes down both sides of oak tag. The students then make up matching questions, such as states and capitals, amendments and their numbers, and presidents and fun facts. Write the information in two columns. The next step is to run a thin strip of aluminum foil on the back side of the oak tag from one side to the other making sure that they match up to correct information. The aluminum foil strip is completely covered using adhesive tape. Make sure there is no aluminum foil left uncovered so that it will not short circuit with another strip. Also, make sure that the aluminum foil completely covers the small holes. Repeat this process as many times as necessary to complete the quiz board. The students then make the "tester" by connecting materials in this order: wire to battery, battery to second wire, second wire to bulb, and then bulb to third wire. Strip the ends of the outside wires and use them to touch the small aluminum circles on the front side of the quiz board. If the information is correct, the circuit will be complete and the light will go on. Have the students check their board by testing all the answers themselves. If everything has been done correctly, they then staple a second sheet of oak tag to the back of their boards so no one can see the "answers." They can exchange boards with other classmates. This is a great way to test their knowledge of circuits, as well as a review for other curriculum facts.
Jorgenson, Olaf, (2005). What k-8 principals should know about hands-on science…it can be messy and noisy, but students learn science best when they do it themselves. Principal-effective intervention- special edition, Volume 85 (Number 2), Pages 49-52.
Haury, David L., & Rillero, Peter. (1997). Perspectives of hands-on science teaching. Eric clearinghouse for science. Retrieved January 14, 2006, from http://www.ncrel.org/
The importance of providing children with direct experience with materials, objects, and phenomena is widely supported. While information can be remembered if taught through books and lectures, true understanding and the ability to use knowledge comes when students are given hands-on learning opportunities.