Introduction to Elementary Circuits
Return to Physics Index
Michael D. Jackson W.H. Carter
5740 S. Michigan Ave.
Chicago IL 60637
1. Children should be able to predict ways to light a bulb.
2. Children should be able to define parts of an electrical circuit.
3. Construct and test models of electrical circuits.
1. electrons 2. positive and negative charge 3. conductor 4. energy
5. generator 6. convert 7. circuit 8. mechanical energy 9. battery
10. chemical energy
Vocabulary in Spanish:
1. electron 2. positive et negative charge 3. conductor 4. energia
5. generador 6. convert 7. circuito 8. energia mecanical 9. batera
10. energia quimica
1. batteries, D cell 2. bulbs, #48 3. bare copper wire (activity 1)
2. batteries, IS6 cell 2. bulb, #48 3. copper wire 4. switch (activity 2)
Stimulate discussion by holding up the materials to be used and asking the
students to name and describe the function of each. (If students do not supply
the information, make sure that these ideas are covered: a battery is the source
of electrical energy; the wire provides an unbroken pathway for the activated
electrons from the battery to energize the copper electrons in the copper wire.
The bulb is placed in the path of the electron flow thus converting this energy
into light energy.
Ask the students to predict how they could arrange the materials to light the
bulb. Write several of their predictions on the board and discuss the
principles of circuits and whether or not their predictions meet the criteria.
Students will now be given the materials for activity 1. After each attempt a
drawing of their attempted circuit should be made. This procedure will continue
for 15-20 minutes or until the students have perfected their technique of
lighting the bulb.
At this point, explain to the students that they have made a circuit with the
materials. Review the parts of the circuits, review the criteria of a circuit
then have volunteers draw on the chalkboard arrangements that made the bulb
light. Stimulate discussion by asking, "What are the three parts of the
circuit?" (a source of electricity, a bulb, and a wire); "In what path did the
electricity go to make the bulb light?" (It made a complete path or circle from
the energy source, to the bulb, and back to the energy source.); "What happened
when the path or the circle was broken?" Have the students trace the path of
electricity in their circuits when the bulb was on.
After thorough discussion of the simple circuit, the concept of a switch is
introduced as a controlled break in a circuit. This switch is constructed with
a small (2in x 3in) poster board sheet, a paper clip, and two brass paper
fasteners. The switch must be connected between the (-) term. of the battery
and the (+) term., with two copper wires connected to the (in) and (out) of the
switch. The (in) wire of the bulb was connected to the (out) of the switch, the
(out) wire of the bulb was then connected to the positive term. of the source.
1. Request that all children name the three components of a simple circuit.
2. Request that all children, while looking at their materials, name and draw
each function in a circuit of the materials they have in front of them.
3. While examining their drawings or reattempting activity 1, have children
diagnose the problems with the circuit prior to the successful lighting of
3 pts-If students can I.D. all necessary components of a circuit, successfully
light the bulb in the circuit and successfully connect a switch to the
2 pts-If students can I.D. all necessary components of a circuit, successfully
light a #48 bulb in the circuit.
1 pt--If students can I.D. all necessary components of a circuit.