ScienceWorks: Circuit Masters (4th-5th)
Students will be “wired” after this electrifying introduction to circuits. Explore the two types of circuits and the parts that make them work. Build a burglar alarm and more with our safe, interlocking electronic components. Register today!
Michigan Grade Level Content Expectations, Science v.1.09
- Identify heat and electricity as forms of energy. (P.EN.04.12)
- Demonstrate how electrical energy is transferred and changed through the use of a simple circuit. (P.EN.04.51)
- Identify objects that are good conductors or poor conductors of heat and electricity. (P.PM.04.53)
Circuit Masters Pre-visit Materials
During Your Visit to the ScienceWorks Lab students will be expected to:
- Sit in tables of 6 students and (at least) 1 adult
- Students should be prepared to give their attention to the Lab instructors when requested to “Give Me Five”
- Work cooperatively with one another at the table
- Follow the hands-on procedures just as the Lab teacher or assistant explains them
- Handle materials and equipment carefully
It is important that teachers and chaperones:
- Help to focus the students’ attention
- Assist students with the hands-on activities and experiments when necessary
- Turn off cell phones and pagers during the class
Capacitor: A capacitor is a device used to store electrical energy.
Circuit: A circuit is a path that electricity flows along. A circuit might contain many electrical components or just a few. Electricity can flow only if the parts of the circuit are connected in a continuous loop to the power supply. If a break is made in the circuit, the electricity stops flowing.
Conductor: A conductor is a material that allows electric current to flow through it easily. Conductors carry electricity from one part of a circuit to another. Copper wire is one example.
Current: Current is the flow of electricity through a circuit.
Electricity: Electricity is one of the basic forms of energy in our world. Electricity is caused by the interaction of positively and negatively charged particles called protons and electrons.
Electron: An electron is a tiny particle that carries a negative electric charge. Electrons, along with neutrons and protons, make up atoms.
LED (light emitting diode): A LED is a device that conducts electricity in one direction only. LEDs are often used in electronic devices because they use much less electricity than light bulbs.
Load: A load is the part of the electric circuit that uses the electric power. In a lighting circuit, for instance, the load is the light bulb. Another term for load is output device.
Parallel Circuit: A parallel circuit is a circuit that contains at least two paths for electrical current to flow on. Parallel circuits can contain more than one switch as well.
Proton: A proton is a tiny particle that carries a positive charge.
Resistor: A resistor is any material that cuts down on the flow of electricity through a circuit.
Series Circuit: A series circuit is a circuit that has only one path for the electrical current.
Switch: A switch controls the flow of electric current in a circuit. When the switch is off, the circuit is broken and the current flow stops.
Voltage: Voltage is the electrical push or pressure that makes electrical charge flow through a circuit.
Circuit Masters Post-visit Activity
Post-visit activities will help reiterate new concepts and tie the ScienceWorks Lab experience to your classroom curriculum. Below you will find a classroom activity and a list of suggested resources for further information. We hope that you enjoyed your field trip. Visit us again!
Hands-on Activity: Conductor Detector
A conductor is a material that allows electricity to flow through it. An insulator is something that does not allow electricity to flow through it. The material that links one part of a circuit to another (such as a light bulb to a battery) must be a conductor in order to complete the circuit and make it work. What kinds of materials are conductors? What kinds of materials are insulators?
The following materials are readily available at hardware, electronic and hobby stores. Amounts listed are for individual students. Multiply as necessary for small groups or an entire class.
- 1.5V battery
- Bulb and bulb holder (always use a bulb that is the same number of volts, or more volts, than your battery)
- Plastic coated wire (single core)
- Wire cutters (wire strippers are even better)
- Small screwdriver
- Tape (electrical tape is great, but Scotch tape works too)
- Assorted conductors & non-conductors (paperclips, rubber bands, marbles, aluminum foil, paper, string, etc.)
- Cut 3 pieces of wire into the following lengths: 2 pieces that are 5 inches long; 1 piece that is 3 inches long
- Strip the last ½ inch of plastic off the end of each wire so that only the inner metal wire is left. To do this, use the wire strippers or clamp the wire cutters down gently ½ inch from the end, just until they start to cut into the plastic. Pull the wire cutters one direction and the rest of the wire the other way so that ½ inch of plastic coating slides off.
- Loosen the screws on the bulb holder. Wrap one end of a 5 inch wire around one screw and one end of the 3 inch wire around the another screw. Tighten the screws back down. Screw the bulb into the holder.
- Securely tape the other end of the 5 inch wire that’s attached to your light bulb tightly to one end of your battery. Make sure it touches the terminal of the battery (the bump on the (+) end or the depression on the (-) end).
- Tape one end of the other 5 inch wire to the other terminal of the battery. If you stretched your circuit out in a straight line, it should be in the following order: 3 inch wire, bulb and bulb holder, 5 inch wire, battery, 5 inch wire.
- Touch the 2 free ends of your circuit together. If all of your connections are tight, the bulb should light.
- To test for conductors, touch the material to be tested — such as a paperclip — with the free ends of your circuit. If the material conducts electricity, the bulb will light.
Baker, Wendy and Andrew Haslam. Make it Work! Electricity. Two-Can Publishing Ltd., Ocala, FL. 1992.
Glover, David. Batteries, Bulbs and Wires. Kingfisher Books, New York. 1993.
Hixson, B.K. Edison, Etc. The Wild Goose Co., Salt Lake City, UT. 1994.
Science Made Simple Grades 1-6. Frank Schaffer Productions, CA. 1997.
Tolman, Marvin N. Hands-On Physical Science Activities for Grades 2-8. Parker Publishing Company, Inc., NY. 1995.
Wood, Robert W. Electricity and Magnetism FUNdamentals: Funtastic Science Activities for Kids. Learning Triangle Press, McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. 1997.