# ACTIVITY 1: Electric Circuit Interactions

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1 CYCLE 5 Developing Ideas ACTIVITY 1: Electric Circuit Interactions Purpose Many practical devices work because of electricity. In this first activity of the Cycle you will first focus your attention on a simple circuit, consisting of a battery and a bulb. When the bulb is connected to the battery and it lights, we say that there is an electric circuit interaction between the battery and bulb. For the bulb to light, however, does it make any difference how the battery is connected to the bulb? Does it make any difference what kinds of materials are used to connect the battery and bulb? As you work through this activity, you will investigate the simple electric circuit and develop answers to these questions. Then you will take apart a flashlight to see how it works. What conditions are necessary for an electric circuit to work? Initial Ideas Imagine that you had a battery, a small bulb and some wires. You were curious about what arrangements would cause the bulb to light. On the following page are pictures of six possible arrangements, with brief descriptions of how the wires are connected in each case. Look at each arrangement carefully and predict whether that particular arrangement would cause the bulb to light. Do this individually at first before discussing it with your group. Write YES next to Pred: for each arrangement that you think would light the bulb. Write NO next to Pred: for each arrangement that you think would not light the bulb PET 5-1

2 Cycle 5 #1 The tip of the bulb touches the negative end of the battery. A wire touches the negative end of the battery and the positive end of the battery. Pred: Obs: #2 The tip of the bulb touches the negative end of the battery. A wire touches the positive end of the battery and the metal side of the bulb. Pred: Obs: #3 One wire touches the positive end of the battery and the tip of the bulb. A second wire touches the negative end of the battery and the tip of the bulb. Pred: Obs: #4 The tip of the bulb touches the positive end of the battery (but not the knob in the middle). A wire touches the metal side of the bulb and the negative end of the battery. Pred: Obs: #5 A single wire touches the positive end of the battery and the negative end of the battery. The tip of the bulb touches the middle of this wire. Pred: Obs: #6 The metal side of the bulb touches the positive end of the battery. A wire touches the tip of the bulb and the negative end of the battery. Pred: Obs: 5-2

3 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions What criteria were you using in making your decisions? That is, what did you think was necessary for the bulb to light? Discuss your answers and reasons with your group members. If you change your mind, do not erase your original answer, but instead just add the opposite answer alongside your original answer. Collecting and Interpreting Evidence Experiment #1: What conditions are necessary to light the bulb? Each student will need: One battery One bulb Two bare copper wires Other items (switch, bulb holder, battery holder and three hook-up wires) to be picked up during STEP 3 below STEP 1. Try each of the six arrangements pictured on the previous pages. In some cases you will need another group member to assist you to hold all the pieces together. Write YES next to Obs (for Observation) for each arrangement that actually lights the bulb, and write NO next to Obs for each arrangement that does not light the bulb. Which of the setups use a battery, bulb and a single wire and the bulb lights? STEP 2. Figure out one more different arrangement of battery, bulb and a single wire that lights the bulb. 5-3

4 Cycle 5 Draw a sketch of your new successful arrangement. STEP 3. Figure out an arrangement using the battery, bulb and two wires that light the bulb. Draw the circuit below. In which of the setups from the Initial Ideas question does a wire directly go from the positive to the negative end of the battery without touching the two parts of the bulb? Did the bulb light in any of those cases? In those cases did you notice if the wire got warm? Look over all the arrangements that allow the bulb to light, and answer the following questions. Which part or parts of the battery need to be part of the connections? Does a wire or part of a bulb need to touch the positive end of the battery only where the knob is, or can it touch any place on the positive end of the battery away from the knob? 5-4

5 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions Which part or parts of the bulb must be touched to make the bulb light? STEP 3. It is awkward to hold the battery, wires and bulb together to build circuits. To make things easier, there are special holders for the battery and for the bulbs, and special hook-up wires that have ends that are easy to attach. There is also a switch to make it easier to open and close the circuit. Get a battery holder, bulb holder, switch and three hook-up wires with small alligator clips on their ends. Snap the battery into its holder, and screw the bulb into the bulb holder. Use the three hook-up wires and connect the circuit together with the switch. With the handle of the switch down between the clip, the bulb should light. The circuit is said to be closed. When the handle is lifted up, the bulb should stop glowing, and the circuit is open. Experiment #2: How do the two ends of the battery need to be connected to the two sides of the bulb? The evidence from Experiment #1 suggests that one side of the bulb needs to be connected to the positive end of the battery, and the other side of the bulb needs to be connected to the negative end of the battery. But do the two sides of the bulb need to be connected to the positive and negative ends of the same battery? Consider the following arrangement: 5-5

6 Cycle 5 Do you think the bulb in the above arrangement will light? Explain your reasons. Get two batteries, two hook-up wires and a bulb in a socket. Hook up the arrangement shown above. Does the bulb glow? Do the two ends of the bulb need to be connected to the two ends of the same battery for the circuit to work? Experiment #3: What kinds of materials are necessary for an electric circuit to work? In the previous experiment you used copper wires to connect the battery and bulb together. (At first you just used bare copper wires. Then, to make it easier to connect things, you used special copper wires with a surrounding plastic sheath and metallic alligator clips at its ends.) Does it make a difference what kinds of materials you use to connect the battery with the bulb? Will anything work to allow the bulb to light? You will try to answer those questions in this experiment. Your group will need: One battery in battery holder One bulb in bulb holder Switch Four hook-up wires Various items made of different materials, like an iron nail, wood stick, glass rod, aluminum foil, copper strip, steel nut, etc. Bulb with glass removed Magnifier 5-6

7 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions STEP 1: Construct a circuit similar to the one shown in the picture. The iron nail is placed in the circuit. At the start the switch handle is up. Close the switch. Does the bulb light? Record your observation in the Table on the next page. STEP 2: Open the switch and remove the iron nail. Replace it with another item from the bag. Attach the two free alligator clips to the two ends of the item. Then close the switch. Record your observations in the Table on the next page about whether the bulb does or does not light. STEP 3. Repeat step 2 for all of the other items that you gathered. Record your observations in the Table. STEP 4. Try two or three additional items to see whether they will allow the bulb to light. Add your observations to the Table. What seems to be common about the types of materials that need to be included in the loop of an electric circuit so the bulb will light? Materials that can be included in a circuit to light the bulb are called conductors. Materials that do not allow the bulb to light when included in a circuit are called insulators. 5-7

8 Cycle 5 Table: Materials that allow the bulb to light Item and material Does the bulb light? (YES or NO) iron nail wood stick glass rod aluminum foil copper strip steel nut STEP 5. Hook up the circuit with the battery and bulb. Close the switch so the bulb glows. Look closely at the bulb through the magnifier. Which part of the bulb is actually glowing? (See picture below for the names of the various parts.) Below is a sketch showing the various parts of a bulb, and whether each part is a conductor or an insulator. 5-8

9 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions STEP 6. Look closely inside a bulb that has its glass cover removed. Use the magnifier if necessary. Play particular attention to what happens to the two filament support wires in the base of the bulb. To the right is a picture of a battery, bare bulb (cut-out view) and two wires. By connecting lines, show how the two filament support wires are connected to the two wires from the battery. Starting at one end of the battery, describe in words the sequence of parts (both outside and inside the bulb) that form a continuous pathway of conductors from one end of the battery to the other. Use terms like wire, filament support wire, filament, side of bulb and bottom tip of bulb. 5-9

10 Cycle 5 Experiment #4: What are two ways of connecting two bulbs to a battery? You group will need: One battery in battery holder Two bulbs in bulb holders Switch Four hook-up wires Your task is to figure out two different ways of connecting two bulbs to a battery, subject to the following conditions: 1. In the first arrangement, the two bulbs glow equally as bright as a single bulb connected to a single battery. Furthermore, when either of the two bulbs is unscrewed from its socket, the other bulb remains lit at the same brightness. 2. In the second arrangement, the two bulbs glow equally, but each is much less bright than when a single bulb is connected to a single battery. Furthermore, when either of the two bulbs is unscrewed from its socket, the other bulb goes out (it no longer glows). After you are successful at constructing each of these two arrangements, sketch diagrams of them below. The first arrangement is called a parallel (or multiloop) circuit, and the second arrangement is called a series (or single loop) circuit. 5-10

11 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions Experiment #5: (Optional) How does a flashlight work? You will need: Flashlight that can be taken apart--the flashlight may have either a plastic or metal casing. Two Batteries, one bare bulb and one bare copper wire. STEP 1. Two members of your group should work together to connect two batteries, a bulb and a bare copper wire as shown to the right. What do you need to do to make the bulb light? This arrangement can be thought of as a very simple flashlight. However, to turn this flashlight on and off requires you to alternately touch the free wire to the side of the bulb and then pull it away. That s not very convenient. A regular flashlight does this in a clever way. STEP 2. Examine the regular flashlight with your group. Take it apart and figure out how it works. Draw a picture of the various electrical parts of the flashlight and show how they are connected together. Use a different colored pencil to trace the path of conductors around the entire circuit. Write a few sentences to explain how the flashlight works that is, what actually happens when you slide the switch and the light goes on. 5-11

12 Cycle 5 Draw your sketch on a discussion board and mount it so other groups can see it. When they are ready, walk around the room and look at the other groups drawings. If you find a diagram much different from your own, discuss those differences with the other group(s). 5-12

13 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions Summarizing Questions S1. Draw a continuous line that shows the pathway of conductors from one end of the battery, through the bulb, to the other end of the battery. As you did in Step 3 of Experiment #3, be able to describe in words the different parts of the pathway. S2. The pictures below represent three different ways of putting together a battery bulb and one or more wires. In each case indicate whether the bulb will light or not light. Justify your choice in terms of the ideas developed in this activity (i.e. the conditions necessary to light a bulb). (a) One wire touches the positive end of the battery and the tip of the bulb. A second wire touches the positive end of the battery (not the knob in the middle) and the negative end of the battery. (b) One wire touches the negative end of the battery and the metal side of the bulb. A second wire touches the positive end of the battery and the tip of the bulb. (c) One wire touches the positive end of the battery and the metal side of the bulb. The other wire touches the negative end of the battery and the metal side of the bulb. 5-13

14 Cycle 5 S3. Below are pictures of a battery holder, bulb holder and switch. Several parts of these components are identified. Indicate whether you think each part is a conductor or an insulator. Justify your answers. (a) (b) (c) 5-14

15 Activity 1: Electric Circuit Interactions S4. In Experiment #4 you constructed two different circuits, each with a battery and two bulbs. Assume that each bulb is in a bulb socket. Redraw the two circuits below, but make the bulb and socket large enough in each case to explicitly show the different parts of the socket and the filament support wires and filament in each bulb. Using a different color pen or pencil, trace a conducting path (or paths) from each end of the battery, to each socket, through the inside of each bulb, and then to the other end of the battery. S5. Consider the same two circuits you drew above. Write a scientific explanation for why (a) in one case, when a bulb is unscrewed from its socket, the other bulb remains lit. (b) Also explain why in the other case, when a bulb is unscrewed from its socket, the other bulb goes out. For each case, your explanation should include a diagram of the circuit with one bulb unscrewed from its socket, and a written narrative for why the other bulb either continues to be lit or goes out. Your diagrams should be large, like the ones you drew in S

16 Cycle 5 Participate in a whole class discussion about answers to the above questions. 5-16

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