# Engaging Inquiry-Based Activities Grades 3-6

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1 ELECTRICITY AND CIRCUITS Engaging Inquiry-Based Activities Grades 3-6 Janette Smith 2016 Janette Smith

2 What s Inside Activity 1: Light it Up!: Students investigate different ways to light a light bulb using a wire, a bulb, and a battery. Activity 2: Insulators and Conductors: Students investigate a variety of materials to see which ones conduct electricity and which do not. Activity 3: : Switch it On, Switch it Off: Students use materials to make a switch for a simple circuit. Activity 4: All In A Row: Students build and investigate a series circuit. Activity 5: Side By Side: Students build and investigate a parallel circuit. Activity 6: Unit Review A Post Test and Grading Rubric are also included. 3 Mini Posters of a bulb, series, and parallel circuits included. Janette Smith

3 Light it Up! Teacher Page Activity Overview: For this introductory activity, students will be given the opportunity to explore an electrical circuit. By simply giving the students materials and asking them to figure out different ways to make the light bulb light, students will discover what makes a complete circuit. Through trial and error, students should figure out that the wire needs to touch both the top and bottom of the battery (either directly or indirectly). They also should discover that the bulb needs to be touched on the bottom of the bulb with one wire, and on the side with the other since this is the way the filament is connected inside the bulb. (Share the diagram on page 6 after the activity) Materials: (This activity works well with partners; that way they can help hold wires in place) Copper wire : About inches long (with about 1 cm of insulated wire removed from each end Bulbs: The small 1.5 v bulbs (Here s a great website to purchase bulbs cheaply: D batteries Activity Sheet *Be sure to caution students that the metal part of the wire will get hot. 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. Janette Smith

4 Light it Up! Name: Today, your task is to figure out how to use a wire, a battery, and a bulb to make the bulb light. (Caution: The wires may get hot.) In these boxes, draw pictures of what didn t work. (Keep the drawings simple) In these boxes, draw pictures of what did work. Janette Smith

5 Light It Up! Name: How would you explain in words how to make the bulb light? Once your bulb is lit, what is one thing you could do to make the light bulb go out? Janette Smith

6 Janette Smith

7 Conductors and Insulators Teacher Page Activity Overview: Now that students have figured out how to create a complete circuit, they are going to test different materials to see if they are conductors or insulators. This will help them with activity 4 when they build a switch for their circuit. Materials Circuit Materials (Bulbs, batteries, wires) Zip loc bag: Penny Small piece of paper A rubber band Paper Clip Paper Fastener Small Square of Cardboard Popsicle stick Aluminum Foil Janette Smith

8 Conductors and Insulators It s time to test different materials to see which ones will let electricity pass through them (conductors) and which ones stop the flow of electricity (insulators). Use your compete circuit to test each item by placing the item between the wire and the battery. Decide if each is either a conductor or insulator. Record results in the table below. Item Conductor or Insulator? Name: What do the conductors have in common? Janette Smith

9 Switch it On, Switch it Off! Teacher Page Activity Overview: Now that students have investigated conductors and insulators, they are ready to make a switch. This will allow them to open and close their circuits, resulting on turning the light bulb on and off. In order to make this activity inquiry, provide the materials and see what students can come up with. If students need guidance, try asking questions to pull them in the right direction. There is no right way to make the switch. The idea is that they will be able to turn the light bulb on or off by disconnecting the circuit somehow. One common way I ve seen students do this is with a paper fastener and paper clip. Using the cardboard, I ve seen students push the paper fastener through and then attach the paper clip to the fastener. This allows students to move the paper clip to open and close the circuit. Materials: Foil Paper Clips Paper Fasteners Cardboard Squares Rubber Bands Materials from Circuits (bulbs, wires, lightbulbs) Janette Smith

10 Name: Switch it On, Switch it Off Your task today is to create a switch for your circuit so that you can turn it on and off. Think about the materials that you tested for conductivity, then draw a prototype below: Now construct your switch and test it out. Keep making adjustments until you get it to work. Janette Smith

11 Name: Switch it On, Switch it Off Now describe how your switch is turning the bulb off and on. What is happening to the flow of electricity? How do you think a light switch works in your house? What is happening inside the walls? Janette Smith

12 All in A Row Teacher Page Activity Overview: This activity gives students the opportunity to explore series circuits. If you happen to have plastic battery holders, it would be really helpful. It get s tricky trying to hold wires on battery ends and several bulbs at the same time. It can be done however, so if you need to do it that way I recommend groups of 4 instead of partners. The student sheet guides them though the activity, helping them see that the energy is evenly distributed through the bulbs. They will also see what happens to the bulbs in a series, when one bulb is disconnected. (The old Christmas light frustration!) Materials: Batteries Battery Holders Bulbs Copper Wire or wires with clips Student activity sheet Next Generation Science Standards: 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. Janette Smith

13 All In A Row Name: Today you will connect more than one bulb to your circuit. Between each bulb you will be connecting a wire. Only use one battery for this exploration. Hypothesis: What will be different about a circuit with 2 bulbs? Will the bulbs have the same brightness as each other? Will one bulb be brighter than the other? Now build your circuit with 2 bulbs. Draw what it looks like in the box below: Janette Smith

14 Name: All In A Row What do the bulbs look like? Are they the same brightness? Are they as bright as one bulb was in the simple circuit? Explore: What do you think will happen when you disconnect one bulb? Now try it. What happened? If you have time, explore this type of circuit (a series circuit) using more than 2 bulbs. Janette Smith

15 Side By Side Teacher Page Activity Overview: Explaining how to set up a parallel circuit can be difficult. For this reason, a diagram is provided to help students build a parallel circuit. Opportunities to explore what happens in a parallel circuit when wires are disconnected are provided that helps students understand the difference between a series and a parallel circuit. Materials: Bulbs Batteries Wires Student Activity Sheet Following the activity pages, you ll find 2 posters that illustrate the 2 different types of circuits. These are great to use for comparison, discussion, and review. Next Generation Science Standards: 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents. Janette Smith

16 Name: Side By Side Today you will explore a different kind of circuit called a parallel circuit. Use the diagram to set your parallel circuit up. What do you notice about the brightness of each of the bulbs? What do you think will happen if you disconnect one of the bulbs? _ Now try it. What happened to the other bulbs? Why do you think this happened? Janette Smith

17 Series Circuit Janette Smith

18 Parallel Circuit Janette Smith

19 Electrical Circuits Review Draw an example of a complete circuit. Name: What is the difference between insulators and conductors? Example of an insulator: Example of a conductor: You turn the light switch off in your bedroom and the lamp by your bed goes off. The light on the ceiling stays on. Is this an example of a series circuit or a parallel circuit? Explain. One of the bulbs on your Christmas light string broke, and now the whole string is out. Is this an example of a series circuit or a parallel circuit? Explain. Janette Smith

20 Name: Electricity and Circuits Post Test Circuit Series Parallel Insulator Conductor Switch Complete Battery Wire Bulb Directions: Write about what you have learned in the electricity and circuits unit. Use as many words from the word box as you can. Try to use examples from the experiments we have done to support your answers. Janette Smith

21 Electricity and Circuits Post Test Rubric Criterion Content Knowledge The student shows a minimal understanding of the concepts The student shows a sufficient understanding of the concepts. The student shows a strong understanding of the concepts Vocabulary The student uses 3 or fewer vocabulary words. the student uses 4-6 vocabulary words. The student uses more than 7 vocabulary words. Application The student does not support their response with examples. The student supports their respons with minimal examples. The student supports their response with many examples. Total Points Name: Your Points Janette Smith

22 Electricity and Circuits Terms of Use Thanks for downloading this mini-unit. Please take a minute to leave feedback on this product. (You can earn TpT credits for future purchases) If you and your students enjoy this activity, be sure to check out more engaging activities at my store: Digital Papers, Frames, and Clip Art Courtesy of: Janette Smith

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