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Tanya English O'Keeffe Elementary School
6940 South Merrill Avenue
Chicago IL 60649
Grade Level: Primary Grades 1 and 2.
Students will correctly make a simple circuit using a battery, bulb, and a wire
so that the bulb will light. (A)
Students will identify contact points in a simple electric circuit. (B)
Students will properly use a test circuit to identify conductors and non-
Students will correctly construct and use a test circuit to test for conductors
and non-conductors. (D)
Students will correctly connect a chemical battery that will light an LCD. (E)
Students will correctly use mechanical energy to make a bulb light up. (F)
Students will correctly use a solar cell to make a bulb light up. (G)
For a class of 20.
20--1.5v bulbs 06--light bulb sockets
20--D-size batteries 06--battery holders
10 yds.--insulated copper wire, Box of small ordinary items made
cut into 10 inch lengths and stripped of metal, plastics, or fabric, money
1/2 inch on each end crayons, string, bottle caps, etc.
10--wood blocks, 1/2 x 3 x 5 inches 3 or 4-- phillips screwdrivers
1 dozen--paper clips 1 dozen--thumbtacks
1--hand generator 1--LCD chemical
1--solar cell 2--lemons
20--Christmas tree lights, separated into individual lights leaving 3 inches
of wire on both ends. Strip off 1/2 inch on each end of wire.
A light source from an overhead projector or a small lamp.
This is an exploration and an individual activity. Meets objectives A and B.
Give each student one battery and one Christmas light. Without explanation,
tell them to make the Christmas light come on. Allow 5-10 minutes for this
activity, then have students demonstrate and discuss ways they were successful
or unsuccessful in getting the lights to come on.
Concepts: Electricity travels in a path called a circuit. Wires must be
correctly attached to the battery's contact points to complete a circuit.
The first part of this activity is a teacher demonstration; the second part is
a student activity. Meets objectives C.
Using the test circuit (see instructions for making) review contact points on a
battery. Demonstrate contact points using two batteries and show how two
batteries, together, can make the 1.5 v light come on. Explain the use of a
battery holder and its contact points. Demonstrate making the light come on
using the battery holder.
Show students the circuit set-up and ask them why the light doesn't come on.
Student response: The circuit is not complete, or it is not a complete circuit.
Accept all answers that refer to an incomplete circuit. The teacher selects an
item from the mystery box and demonstrates how to complete the circuit. Have
students select an item from the mystery box and attempt to complete the circuit
by making the item touch both paper clips. Have them sort the items by keeping
those that make the light come (complete the circuit) from those items that
don't. Have students identify common properties of those items that make the
lights come on.
Concept: Some materials conduct electricity (conductors) and some materials do
not (insulators). Metals are conductors of electricity. When the circuit is
incomplete, the path of electricity is interrupted.
This is a cooperative student activity. Meets objective D. Students will work
in groups of four.
Each group will need the following materials: 2-'D' batteries, 1 battery holder,
1-1.5v light bulb, 1-light bulb socket, 2 paper clips, 2 thumbtacks, 2 insulated
copper wires, 6 inches ea., 1 wood block, a screwdriver.
Students are to construct a test circuit that will make the light bulb light
when completed with a metal conductor from activity #2.
This activity demonstrates electric power from mechanical, solar, and chemical
energy sources. Meets objectives E, F, and G.
Connect a Christmas light to the hand generator; set aside.
Place the solar cell apparatus under the light source; do not turn on the light.
Take two lemons and the LCD chemical clock and place each a copper and zinc
end of the LCD chemical clock into one lemon and do the same with the other
lemon so that the time display comes on on the clock.
Ask for student volunteers to make the Christmas light come on using the hand
generator; to make the solar apparatus work using the light source; and then
the teacher disconnects the LCD chemical clock and has students re-connect it
so that the clock comes on again.
Discuss with students chemical, solar, and mechanical energy and their uses.
Concept: Electricity can come from many sources, including chemical, solar,
Performance or authentic assessment is used for this topic. The students
demonstrate or perform their understanding of the concepts when they make the
light bulb come on, the LCD clock come on, correctly sort conductors and
insulators, correctly construct a test circuit that will make the light come on
when the circuit is completed with a conductor.
Extensions and teacher information:
A battery is a chemical source of electricity. This can be demonstrated by
cutting a battery in half, lengthwise to show that it is made of carbon, nickel,
and acid. Using a strip of copper and nickel in a beaker of acid such as
vinegar, sulfuric acid, lemon juice or lemon, you can show the presence of
electricity with a galvanometer. (Tolman and Martin, pp. 247-253)
Directions for making a test circuit:
Place 2 "D" batteries in battery holder. Using 2 strips of copper wire, connect
one end of each wire strip to one end of the battery holder wires. Connect the
exposed end of one of the copper wires to the light socket contact point. (A
small screw on the light socket.) Connect one end of a third strip of copper
wire to the other contact point on the light socket. You now should have 2
remaining unconnected copper wire ends. Wrap the exposed wire tightly around
the end of a paper clip. Do the same with another paper clip. Secure the paper
clips into the block of wood using two thumbtacks, positioning them into the
wood so they do not touch and leaving a half-inch space between them. You can
secure the light socket to the wood block using clay or screws. Screw the light
bulb into the socket, check contact points, and test your circuit by laying a
piece of metal across the paper clips to complete the circuit. The light should
come on if correctly constructed.
Physical Science Activities for Grades 2-8,
Science Curriculum Activities Library
Tolman, Marvin N. and Morton, James O.
Parker Publishing Company, Inc.
West Nyack, NY, 1986
Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires
Kingfisher Books, NY, 1993
Electricity Experiments for Children
Dover Publications, Inc., NY, 1960