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!
Circuits: A Bright Idea!
Today in class, we talked about electrical circuits and examined the effect of including two lamps in one circuit.
We found that when a circuit includes two lamps in series (one right after the other), both lamps need to be connected or neither light will turn on! This is because electricity is the flow of electrons, and if a light is not connected, the circuit is not complete and the electrons cannot flow. We also noticed that the lamps in series were dimmer than a single lamp alone; this is because the electrons have twice as many lights to turn on!
But when lamps are connected in parallel so that the electricity flows to both lamps at the same time, they are just as bright as one lamp by itself because both lamps are seeing the same amount of electricity. If a lamp in a parallel circuit is disconnected, the other lamp doesn’t change; in fact, a parallel circuit with one lamp disconnected is the same as a simple circuit with one light!