Electricity: Simple Circuits
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.
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 fabric
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.
WHAT IS ELECTRIC CURRENT?
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 battery.
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 cross 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 chemicals.
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 = -------------------------------
5. Find out which objects conduct electricity.
Build the tester described in the conductivity experiment. Fill in the chart.
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
27 Edinburgh Road,
Cambridge, CB4 1QR
Created August 21, 1999
Last Revised August 8, 2000
Suggested Grade Level: 4
Science Content Standards:
S.C.O.R.E. Lessons Standards Search by Grade and Subject
S.C.O.R.E. Standards and Framework
California Content Standards Grades K-12
California Content Standards Grades K-12 - Science -PDF Format
Investigation and Experimentation: 6 d, f -Students will conduct multiple trials to test a prediction and will follow a set of written instructions for scientific investigation.
Physical Sciences: 1 a -Students will build simple series and parallel circuits.
Batteries use chemical energy to make energy. When the chemical energy is exhausted the battery is dead.
A current is the flow of electrons through wires, water, objects, etc.
Lamps light when it receives energy from the positive and negative terminals of the batteries.
Conductors are materials which allow electrical currents to flow through the material.
Parallel circuits give lamps normal brightness. The advantage is the battery lasts longer.
Series circuits make the lamps extra bright and may burn out the light bulb. The batteries do not last as long.
The first activity, the lemon battery, may require as many as 10 lemons to light the bulb.
Review safety rules with students before starting.
Students should be told to keep wires away from all electrical outlets.
If students create a short circuit, the wires will become hot. Students should disconnect the batteries.
Interpreting data, making inferences, forming hypotheses, making predictions, completing experiments, following directions
Effective use of Internet resources
Presentations, lab sheets, peer evaluation, rubric
Presentations -PowerPoint or Hyperstudio, Student created web page.
Shockwave (Plug in needed)
Electricity and Magnetism Site