4.3 Electricity

The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of electricity. Key concepts include:
a) conductors and insulators;
b) basic circuits; open/closed, series/parallel
c) static electricity;
d) the ability of electrical energy to be transformed into light and motion, and to produce heat;
e) simple electromagnets and magnetism; and
f) historical contributions in understanding electricity.

Research Resources:
BBC – Using Electricity
BBC- Circuits & Conductors
BBC- Friction
BBC – Changing Circuits
BBC – Electrical Circuits

Design Briefs:
SS2-Who’s Who & What’s What
Build a Charge Detector  In this hands-on activity, students explore the electrical force that takes place between two objects. Each student builds an electroscope and uses the device to draw conclusions about objects’ charge intensity. Students also determine what factors influence electric force.
Build an Electromagnet Student teams investigate the properties of electromagnets. They create their own small electromagnet and experiment with ways to change its strength to pick up more paper clips. Students learn about ways that engineers use electromagnets in everyday applications.
Bulbs and Batteries in a Row (Series Circuits) Everyday we are surrounded by circuits that use “in parallel” and “in series” circuitry. Complicated circuits designed by engineers are composed of many simpler parallel and series circuits. During this activity, students build a simple series circuit and discover the properties associated with series circuits.
Bulbs and Batteries Side by Side (Parallel Circuits) We are surrounded everyday by circuits that utilize “in parallel” and “in series” circuitry. Complicated circuits designed by engineers are made of many simpler parallel and series circuits. In this hands-on activity, students build parallel circuits, exploring how they function and their unique features.
Charge It!  (Static Electricity) Students use balloons to perform several simple experiments to explore static electricity and charge polarization.
Completing the Circuit In the everyday electrical devices we use — calculators, remote controls and cell phones — a voltage source such as a battery is required to close the circuit and operate the device. In this hands-on activity, students use batteries, wires, small light bulbs and light bulb holders to learn the difference between an open circuit and a closed circuit, and understand that electric current only occurs in a closed circuit.
Conductivity Students make a simple conductivity tester using a battery and light bulb. They learn the difference between conductors and insulators of electrical energy as they test a variety of materials for their ability to conduct electricity.
Fascinating Friction In this activity, students use wood, wax paper and oil to investigate the importance of lubrication between materials and to understand the concept of friction. Using wax paper and oil placed between pieces of wood, the function of lubricants between materials is illustrated. Students extend their understanding of friction to bones and joints in the skeletal system and become aware of what engineers can do to help reduce friction in the human body as well as in machines.
Light Your Way During a power failure, or when we go outside at night, we grab a flashlight so we can find our way. What happens inside a flashlight that makes the bulb light up? Why do we need a switch to turn on a flashlight? Have you ever noticed that for the flashlight to work you must orient the batteries a certain way as you insert them into the casing? Many people do not know that a flashlight is a simple series circuit. In this hands-on activity, students build this everyday household item and design their own operating series circuit flashlights.
Lights On!  Students in this activity will build simple circuits using a battery, wires, and light bulbs. This activity allows students to examine how electricity is conducted through a light bulb using a battery as a power source. Students will also able to observe the differences between a series circuit and parallel circuit by building each type of circuit.
Get your Motor Running  – Students investigate motors and electromagnets as they construct their own simple electric motors using batteries, magnets, paper clips and wire.


Electrical Engineers