Basics of Electricity
Electricity can be a tricky concept and needs a lot of hands on experimentation to understand as it is extremely hard to imagine it. Here we will discuss a few activities you could use in the classroom to make this an unforgettable experience for your students and make them appreciate the beauty and magic of electricity.
Activity 1: The first activity involves establishing the fact that current needs a closed path.
Step 1: Give the groups boxes with the materials (Bulbs, wires, battery, cutter) and ask them to use it to make a torch.
Step 2: The teacher can probe them with questions and ask them to try various combination.
Give them the freedom to use the materials in any way possible and let the children explore.
The students can be asked to think about a few anchor questions as they do the above activities, which include:
- Why does a battery have a positive and negative end?
- Do bulbs have a positive and negative terminal?
- Why does the bulb not glow if both the end of the wire is connected to the end of the bulb.
Ask them to come up with two situations, one when the bulb was glowing and one when the bulb was not. (Encourage them to answer and let them know it is OK to make mistakes)
The students can then be asked to draw the situations on the board. This draws attention to the need for using common symbols for representation of the components of the circuit. Initially, allow the students to represented it by drawing each of the components using figurative pictures for each of the components, and not necessarily the standard representation.
Activity 2: To learn the standard form of representation a small activity could be conducted
Step 1: Have two sets of cards prepared, one set with the names of electrical components, the other with the standard representation of these components.
Step 2: Ask the students to match the electrical components with the standard representation of these components.
Standard representation Non-Standard representation
After this activity, repeat the representation of the circuit using the standard symbols. We need to tell the students why they need to learn these standard ways of representing certain components, as opposed to asking them to learn it so that they can attempt a question for a certain number of marks in their exam.
Activity 3: The groups are given additional materials including a safety pin and two board pins. This was concentrated around establishing that if the path is broken, the bulb will stop glowing as current is not flowing.
A very beautiful analogy of the flow of current(or electrons) is the flow of water in a closed circular pipe which can be demonstrated by the teacher outside of the class. The importance and functioning of the battery in the whole process could be equated to that of a motor in the case of water to get a much better understanding.
Step 1: Give the groups additional material, like match sticks, nails,pencils sharpened on both ends, pins, cloth strings to use as part of the path of electricity to see if they, in any combination, allow current to pass.
Step 2: Urge them to make detailed observations of all the various combinations used in the investigations.
This activity establishes that some materials do not let the flow of electricity happen and the terminology of conductors and non conductors can be introduced. They could then be asked to categorize the materials in the following way.
You could also do a scientists-crossword, whose answers are names of famous scientists. The students can research about these scientists and this could lead to an interesting discussion about about anecdotes from the lives of these scientists. This helps create an interest in the processes associated with research in science. You can find some of the links to anecdotes here, and here, and here.
Hope this helps charge your students brains with the basics of electricity:)