Electricity Role Play
1. Have the students stand in a continuous line side-by-side.
Students will by putting their arms around each other’s shoulders.
2. The first person in line starts a wave by bending over and then standing back up. This will sequentially pull everyone else in the line over too, simulating electricity flowing through a conductor.
4. Next students will simulate an insulator. Repeat the line of students with their arms around each other’s shoulders, but this time have one student in the middle drop their arms to their sides. They should still be next to the other students, but not linked to them. Again, the first person in the line bends over at the waist and stands up. What happens?
4. Discuss with the students what happened this time – how the bending wave stopped at the unattached student. This simulates the effect of an insulator (the unattached student), which is a material that does not allow electricity to easily flow through the it.
5. Point out that a good conductor is a poor insulator and a poor conductor is a good insulator. Brainstorm two lists with the students – one of objects that they think would be good conductors and those that would be good insulators. Ask them how they would find out which was which.
6. After completing your lesson on electricity and circuits, revisit this hypothesis with the students to see if their experiments with insulators and conductors confirmed or refuted their predictions.
The word circuit literally means a route that starts and finishes at the same place. An electrical circuit has a source of power (the battery), the connecting wires (the conductors), and the device that is collecting the electrical power (the load). For the load to receive the electricity the circuit must be continuous. If the circuit is broken the power cannot get through to power the load.
Controlling the Electrical Current:
In an electrical circuit, there needs to be a way to control when the power will flow through it and when it won’t. That is the job of the switch. A switch can be open or closed. A closed switch keeps the flow of electricity flowing through the circuit to power a device. An open switch creates a gap in the circuit, so electricity stops flowing to the device. It “breaks” the circuit. A switch can also be used to change the pathway of electricity in a parallel circuit to power a different devise.
Another way electrical current has been controlled is through fuses. A fuse will literally melt down if too much current is forced through it, creating a circuit gap – which stops he flow of electricity. This was meant to stop electrical fires, but requires replacing the burned out fuse with a
new one each time to get the current going again.
A newer current protection device is the breaker. A breaker or circuit breaker is a switch that is designed to activate and break the flow of electricity when too much current is flowing through the system to prevent an electrical fire. It can be reset by hand, so does not have to be replaced each time like a fuse.
Instead of simply stopping the flow of electricity, it is sometimes necessary to just decrease how much current a device is getting. This is done by resistor. A resistor can lower the current that is flowing into more fragile devices like a computer circuit board.
Types of Circuits
There are three kinds of electrical circuits we will look at: simple circuits, parallel circuits, and series circuits.
• A simple circuit has a just one device (component load) that gets its electricity from the power source and sends it along the conductors in the circuit to touch the power source’s opposite end (terminal).
• A series circuit has more than one device (component loads) that are joined end-to-end by connecting wire (conducting wire). If there is a break anywhere in the wire (conductor), all the devices will lose power, because the circuit has been broken.
• A parallel circuit has branching paths to each device (component loads) that is getting electricity. If the wire (conductor) to one device (component load) is broken in a parallel circuit, the other devices will still get power. This makes a better circuit for wiring a house.
Simple Circuit Making Activity
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Amsel, Sheri. "Circuits Unit (Complete)" Exploring Nature Educational Resource ©2005-2019. July 18, 2019
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