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Electricity:  Simple Circuits
Created by:

Janice Simpson


URL: http://www.can-do.com/uci/lessons99/electricity.html

URL:  http://www-sci.lib.uci.edu/SEP/CTS99/electricity.html

Purpose: Investigate various electricity topics

In this site you will be able to: light a light bulb, make your own battery, and discover which types of objects conduct electricity.


Resources Needed:
1 lemon or lime 1 iron screw 5 cm long 1 brass screw 5 cm long
1.5 volt light bulb 3 insulated wires with striped ends approx. 15 cm D cell battery
1 D cell battery holder 1 light bulb holder comb
penny rock metal spoon

Your Task: Complete 4 of the 6 activities listed below in red.  Enjoy!


           Batteries are assembled from cells, connected in series, to increase the voltage available.
           In a cell, chemical energy is converted into electrical energy. 
           Cells may be either PRIMARY or SECONDARY types.
           A primary cell is discarded when its chemical energy is exhausted.
           A secondary cell can be recharged. 
           The most common primary cell is the zinc/carbon (Leclanche) as used in torches, portable radios etc.

1.  Building your own battery.  Demonstrate your battery to the class. Click here for directions.


          An electric current is a flow of microscopic particles called ELECTRONS flowing through wires
          and electronic components.
          It can be likened to the flow of water through pipes and radiators, etc.
          As water is pushed through pipes by a pump, electric current is pushed through wires by a
          Hot water does work by heating radiators.
          Electric current does work by heating fires, lighting lamps, ringing bells, electroplating, etc. 
          A basic law of the universe is that like charges repel and unlike attract. Two negatives will repel
          each other. A negative and a positive will attract each other.
          An electron has a negative charge. 
          The negative (-ve) terminal of a battery will push negative electrons along a wire.
          The positive (+ve) terminal of a battery will attract negative electrons along a wire.
          Electric current will therefore flow from the -ve terminal of a battery, through the lamp, to the
          positive terminal.

2.  Using two or three wires, one battery, and one light bulb, build a simple circuit, a parallel
     circuit, and a series circuit.
     Click here for diagrams.
      For more basic electronics diagrams and explanations 


    • circuit a closed loop of conductors through which charges can flow
    • conductor a substance through which electrical charges can easily flow
    • current a flow of electrical charges
    • generator a device for producing electrical current by moving a coil of wire in a magnetic field
    • insulator a material through which electric charges cannot move
    • ion an atom that has gained or lost one or more electrons and is thus a charged particle
    • switch a device that closes or opens a circuit, thereby allowing or preventing current flow
    • voltage the pressure behind the flow of electrons in a circuit

3.  Create a word search or crossword puzzle using the vocabulary words above.
     Print your word search and crossword puzzle. 
     Test other students by printing the answer keys.
      Click here to create the word search or a crooss word puzzle

4.  Visit Frankenstein's Lightning Lab. on electrical safety. Place the cursor on a part ot the house 
     to learn a safety rule.
     Make a poster which illustrates one of the safety rules.  Click here to go to Frankenstein's Lab


           These are materials in which it is easy to get electrons to move and provide a flow of electric current. 
           Conductors are mostly metals such as gold, silver, copper, iron and lead. 
           Carbon is a conductor as well as some gases (as in fluorescent tubes) and water containing some
           These are not perfect conductors and offer some resistance to the flow of current. 

           The resistance of a conductor (such as a metal rod) is determined by three things: 

           (1) its length. The longer its length the higher its resistance. 
           (2) its cross-sectional area. The bigger this is the lower is its resistance. 
           (3) the material of which it is made. 

           All materials have RESISTIVITY. 
           The higher the value of resistivity the higher the resistance. 
           It is measured in OHM METERS. 

                                           length x resistivity 
            Resistance  =     ------------------------------- 
                                          cross-sectional area

5.  Find out which objects conduct electricity.  Build the tester described in the conductivity 
     experiment. Fill in the chart.

Conductivity experiment 

Name of object Conducts electricity Doesn't conduct electricity
metal spoon    

6.   The measure of energy per unit charge is measured is called voltage (V) and the unit of 
      measurement is called volts.

     Resistance inhibits the amount of current running along the circuit. 
     Use the voltage simulator to light the light bulb. 

     Record  your results. Voltage Circuit Simulator

Thanks to
Graham Knott,
27 Edinburgh Road, 
Cambridge, CB4 1QR

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E-Mail: jb_simpson@hotmail.com
Last Updated August 21, 1999
Revised August 8, 2000