Introduction to Electricity
Grade Level: Kindergarten, 1, 2
Description: In this lesson, students are introduced to electricity and simple circuits. Through hands-on activities, students learn what is needed to make a complete circuit.
- Students will have a hands-on opportunity to construct a simple circuit.
- Students will develop an understanding of where electricity comes from and how electricity affects their lives.
- Using a battery, wires, a socket, and a light bulb, students will be able to construct a simple circuit.
- Students will draw and label the parts of a simple circuit.
- flashlights (battery powered)
- 5 small letter e’s
- 1 picture of a light bulb
- 1 picture of a battery
- 1.5v batteries
- plastic coated wires
- light bulbs
- overhead projector with blank transparencies and markers
- My Circuit Worksheet
Turn off the lights in the classroom. “What happened? What do we need to do to turn the lights back on? When we turn the switch on, what makes the light come on? What power do the lights use to work? The electricity that makes the lights in the ceiling work is the same kind of electricity that comes from outlets. What are outlets? In the ceiling, you can’t see the outlet. (Pick up and turn on a flashlight.) What power does the flashlight use? (If students answer “batteries,” explain that batteries are a container for that kind of power.) Does anyone know what kind of power is stored in batteries? The power in batteries is also electricity.” (Invite someone to turn the lights back on.)
“Today we are starting a unit on electricity. Electricity is very important in our lives. Electricity makes all kinds of things work. Think about the things in your home that use electricity that comes from outlets. Also, think about the things in your home that use electricity from batteries. Turn to the person next to you and share three things in your house that use electricity, either with batteries or with outlets.”
On the overhead projector, create a “T” chart with the heading, “Electricity.” Create two sub-headings: from outlets and from batteries . “Who would like to share something that uses electricity?” Add items to the chart as students make suggestions. “Tonight, for homework, I would like you to look around your house for things that use electricity. Don’t touch or test things at home. The electricity from outlets is very powerful and can hurt you if you play with it. That is why only grown-ups should use outlets. Look around your house, and tomorrow we will talk about what you found and add the items to our list.”
“For today’s activity, we are going to use batteries to learn what makes electricity work. The energy from batteries is not strong; that is why it is safe for you to use them. Whether electricity comes from batteries or outlets, it works the same way. You are going to have a chance to make a light bulb light up!”
Everything in our world is made up of tiny, tiny, tiny bits called “atoms.” They are so tiny, you cannot see them unless you have a very powerful microscope. The chair, the desk, the floor, even our bodies, are all made of atoms. Some of the parts of each atom contain even tinier things called electrons. The electrons spin around the center of the atom. Sometimes, if there is power or energy, electrons start to move or jump to other atoms. Moving electrons create electricity. This is the kind of electricity we have in our homes. It is made up of millions and millions of moving electrons. For the electricity to work, the electrons must move in a complete loop. When electricity flows through a loop, it is called a circuit. Let’s say that together, “circuit.”
“We are going to play a game that I call the e game . The e stands for electron, because electron starts with e. Can I have 7 volunteers? Sit in a circle. Who would like to be the light bulb? (Give the student a picture of a light bulb.) Who would like to be the battery? (Give the student a picture of a battery.)” The other 5 students each receive a small letter e. “We are going to pretend that the rest of you are a metal wire, and the electrons are going to move through you. When the electrons are passing through the light bulb, the light bulb will be lit. (Students pass the electrons [letter e's] around the circle, and then the teacher interrupts the flow by creating a barrier.) Why can’t the electrons move now? The loop is broken. The electrons cannot flow through the wire. If the loop is broken, there is no flow of electricity. Now I am going to close the loop. What is going to happen now? Thank you for your help. You can go back to your seats.”
Modeling/Checking for Understanding:
“Now, I am going to show you how to make your own circuit using a battery. The battery is in a battery holder. There is also a small light bulb. This is the size of the light bulb in a flashlight. The light bulb is in a holder called a socket. Finally, there are two metal wires. The metal wires are coated with plastic. Electricity move easily through metal, but it cannot pass through plastic. The plastic keeps the electricity inside and safe. On the ends of these wires are alligator clips. (Show students how to open clips.) Why do you think these are called alligator clips? You need to use the same fingers you use for holding a pencil to open the alligator clips. (Demonstrate pincer grasp in the air.) Now I’ll attach one end of the alligator clip to one end of the battery. Then I’ll attach the other end to the socket. Did the light bulb light up? Why not? We need to have a complete loop. Electricity only flows if it can get all the way around from one end of the battery to the other. So, we need another wire to make a loop and complete the circuit. (Attach the wire.) What happened?”
Divide students into groups of three. Give each group a tray of materials (light bulbs, sockets, wires, batteries). In their groups, students take turns making a circuit.
Checking for Understanding:
Using the overhead projector, draw a picture of the circuit. Label the various parts of the circuit. “What is this part called? (Point to the battery.) What is this called? (Point to the wires.) Who remembers what this is called? (Point to the socket.) Finally, what is this called? (Point to the light bulb.) And, what is this whole diagram or picture called? (circuit)”
“Today we learned how electricity works, and each of you had a chance to make a circuit. Electricity is an important part of our life and now you know that for electricity to work, it needs a power source, and it needs to flow in a complete loop. Now you can make your own diagram and label the parts, just like I did. (Pass out the worksheets labeled “My Circuit.” Students draw a picture of a circuit and label the circuit as demonstrated on the overhead.)
Assessment: Observe how well the students answer the questions, construct their circuits, and diagram their circuits.