Electricity! Sparking Interest

Today’s lesson was all about electricity. Students learned what electricity is made of, and how it relates to atoms, the building blocks of all physical matter. We discussed that electricity is the flow of electric charge, usually electrons, called current and reviewed how batteries work.

Students were then challenged to make a complete circuit to light up a light bulb. They really had to take charge and include a light switch in their circuits. Finally they made some shocking conclusions about which materials conduct electricity and which don’t by testing them in their circuit. Our simple circuit consisted of a battery, light bulb and wires. We then added in the different insulators and conductors to the closed circuit to see which materials would keep the light on. Students found that metals were good conductors, while paper, wax and rubber were insulators. This is the reason why we have plastic, an insulator, around our electrical cords so we won’t get shocked!

Students were “shocked” to find out that potatoes and other produce such as lemons, apples and pickles can be turned into batteries that can be used to power an LED clock!


La Electricidad

El la clase del día de hoy estudiamos la electricidad. Los estudiantes aprendieron qué es la electricidad y su relación con los átomos, que son los bloques de construcción de toda la materia física. Aprendimos que la electricidad es el flujo de cargas eléctricas, usualmente de electrones, lo que se denomina “corriente”. También repasamos cómo funcionan las baterías. Luego los estudiantes tuvieron el siguiente desafío: construir un circuito para encender una ampolleta (bombilla). Construyeron el circuito completo, ¡incluso incluyeron un interruptor para encender la luz! Finalmente, los estudiantes usaron sus circuitos para determinar qué materiales conducen la electricidad y cuáles no; y obtuvieron a unas conclusiones “electrizantes”.

El circuito era muy simple, consistió de una batería, cables y una bombilla. Luego probamos diferentes materiales aislantes y conductores en el circuito cerrado, para ver cual mantenía la luz encendida y cual no. Los estudiantes aprendieron que los metales son buenos conductores, mientras que el papel, la cera y la goma actúan como aislantes. Esta es la razón por la cual usamos el plástico como aislante eléctrico en nuestros cables; así evitamos electrocutarnos.

Los estudiantes se “impactaron” al aprender que las papas y otras frutas y verduras como los limones, manzanas y pepinillos, pueden transformarse en baterías, ¡las cuales pueden ser utilizadas para encender un reloj de LED!


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Lauren Koppel

Lauren earned a Bachelor’s degree with a double major of Biology and Psychology from Clark University, and a Master of Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During her undergraduate years, she worked in a evolutionary neurobiology lab that studied the neural development of annelids (marine worms), with a focus on the sox family of genes. Lauren loves learning about how the world works (including everything from biology to chemistry to engineering), and is passionate about sharing that knowledge and enthusiasm with others. In the past, she has interned at the Museum of Science, where she educated learners of all ages through hands-on activities, games, and experiments. Other science education organizations with which Lauren has worked include The People’s Science, EurekaFest, and Eureka! of Girls Inc. of Worcester. Currently she lives in Boston, where devotes her free time to playing Quidditch, reading sci-fi novels, playing her ukulele, and enjoying all the culinary delights the city has to offer.

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