Outreach Workshop: Circuits
Introduces information on the principles of electricity and circuits. Test these principles by using interlocking components to build your own circuits.
Fees are determined by distance from the Museum:
- Within 25 miles: $340
- 26-50 miles: $370
- 51+ miles: $370 + $.54 per mile
- Each additional hour: $125
Michigan K-12 Science Standards
Use tools and materials to design and build a device that uses light or sound to solve the problem of communicating over a distance.
Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Circuits Pre-visit Vocabulary
Capacitor: Device used to store electrical energy.
Circuit: Path that electricity flows along.
Conductor: Material that allows electric current to flow through it easily.
Current: Flow of electrically charged particles through a circuit.
Diode: Device that conducts electricity in one direction only.
Electricity: Form of energy created by the flow of electrons.
Electron: Tiny particle that carries a negative charge.
Load: Part of an electric circuit that uses the electric power.
Parallel Circuit: Circuit that contains at least two paths for electrical current.
Proton: Tiny particle that carries a positive charge.
Resistor: Any substance that cuts down on the flow of electricity through a circuit.
Series Circuit: Circuit that has only one path for the electrical current.
Switch: Device that controls the flow of electric current in a circuit.
Voltage: Electrical push or pressure that causes electrical charge to flow through a circuit.
Circuits Post-visit Activity
Post-visit activities provide your students with an opportunity to review workshop-presented concepts and introduce related subjects. Below you will find a classroom extension activity and a list of suggested resources for further exploration. We hope that you enjoyed our Outreach Hands-On Workshop and we look forward to visiting your students 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. 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.