# Sample. What Electricity Can Do LESSON 2. Overview and Objectives. Background

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1 What Electricity Can Do Overview and Objectives Background Light bulbs are such an integral part of everyday life that most people can t imagine being without them. Because people tend to take light bulbs so much for granted, they don t think about how they work. But light bulbs are an ingenious electrical device. In this lesson, students will learn how to light a bulb using a simple battery, a piece of wire, and a small bulb. Students will be excited that they can get the bulb to light and will be interested in looking for different ways to complete the task. Students discover how to light a bulb using a simple battery, a piece of wire, and a small bulb. Students discover the effect of electric current on a magnetic compass needle. Students set up a notebook for their observations. Electricity flows along a path called a circuit. To create a circuit, you need a battery, wire, and whatever else you wish to include in the circuit, such as a bulb. The electricity must be able to move from one end of the battery to the other to create a complete circuit. How does electricity flow along a circuit? Like many things in nature, electricity is invisible, but we can see and measure the results of the flow. The battery, or energy source, gives electricity its push through a circuit. This push, or voltage, can be thought of as electrical pressure, and is analogous to water pressure. Electrical pressure is measured in volts. The actual flow of electricity through a circuit is analogous to the flow of water through a hose. The flow of electrical current is measured in amperes. Batteries come in many different shapes and sizes. High-voltage batteries are composed of cells, but the simplest batteries have only one cell. Common onecelled batteries are the AAA-, AA-, C-, and D-cells, all of which can be found in many local stores. Although these batteries differ in size and in the amount of current they can provide, they all produce approximately 1.5 volts. In this unit, students will be working with a D-cell battery. The D-cell, like all batteries, has two ends, one marked + (positive) and one marked (negative). The positive end has a small, raised button on it; the negative end is flat (see Figure 2-1). 7

2 Materials can be roughly divided into two groups: conductors, which will readily transmit an electrical current; and insulators, which will not allow the flow of any significant amounts of electricity. Examples of conducting materials are aluminum, copper, and steel. Insulating materials include rubber, wood, and most plastics. The wire students will be working with is commonly called hook-up wire, because it is used to connect electrical components. The wire is made of copper or aluminum. The conducting wire allows electricity to flow from one end of the battery to the other. In some other wires, such as lamp cords, there are two wires, each composed of many strands. The two wires are necessary so that a complete circuit can be created, beginning at the power plant, going through a network of wires, to an appliance or light, and back to the power plant. To prevent shocks, the wire is covered by a plastic sheath that acts as an insulator. Figure 2-1 D-cell batteries, hook-up wire, and lamp cord The bulbs used in this unit are very similar to the household bulbs in fixtures and lamps, except they are much smaller. A typical bulb is shown in Figure 2-2, and its parts have been labeled. The filament is the part of the bulb that gets hot, glows, and produces light. Figure 2-2 A bulb Filament Support wires Metal threaded base Ceramic insulator Soldered tip 8 / What Electricity Can Do

3 All these components the battery, the wire, and the bulb can work together to make a circuit. The circuit is established when there is a continuous path for electricity to travel from one end of the D-cell back to the other end. Figure 2-3 shows a student lighting a bulb by using a piece of wire to connect the negative end of the D-cell to the bulb. Figure 2-3 Lighting a bulb There are at least four different ways to light the bulb using one wire, one bulb, and one battery. These ways are illustrated in Figure 2-4. The bulb lights with the same brightness in each case. Figure 2-4 Four ways to light a bulb Sometimes students may connect a wire directly from one end of the battery to the other without having a bulb in the circuit. When this happens, a short circuit is created, as illustrated in Figure 2-5. A short circuit provides a conducting pathway from one end of the battery to the other, but bypasses the bulb. Short circuits in a house or in an automobile can produce dramatic sparks and enough heat to melt metals and start a fire. Short circuits with D-cells are not dangerous, but they do drain the electrical energy from the batteries. If left connected for several minutes, both the wire and D-cell will get warm. What Electricity Can Do / 9

4 Figure 2-5 A short circuit A short circuit allows enough current to flow through the circuit to permit the effect of the magnetic field on a magnetic compass to be observed. Students will have an opportunity to explore this effect using a battery, a hook-up wire, and a magnetic compass. As students work, they will inevitably create short circuits. Short circuits are not always easy to recognize, because they often occur amidst a tangle of fingers and wires. Two typical examples of the way such a short circuit might look are shown in Figure 2-6. A short circuit should be suspected when a student can t figure out why the bulb will not light. (Touching the sides of the D-cell will not cause a short circuit, however, nor will touching the D-cell with the insulated part of the wire.) Figure 2-6 Two typical short circuits 10 / What Electricity Can Do

5 If a short circuit occurs but is disconnected immediately, the D-cell can continue to be used, as long as it still lights the bulb. However, if the D-cell will no longer light the bulb, it should be put aside. Save these for use in Lesson 6. It should be emphasized that there is no real risk in these short circuits and no damage is possible by students creating them. Do not demonstrate these as wrong things to do. This background is provided so you will be able to foresee simple stumbling blocks when they arise. Materials For each student 1 storage box 1 D-cell battery 1 bulb 1 6-inch piece of wire 1 magnetic compass 1 label 1 student notebook For the class 30 extra D-cell batteries 30 extra bulbs (These are the reserves for the entire unit) Preparation (1 hour) Safety Reminder Do not use rechargeable batteries. There have been reports of very hot wires when these batteries are short-circuited. 1. Before the class, prepare the wire (instructions below) and assemble the student storage boxes, the D-cell batteries, and the bulbs. The wires will need to be stripped before you begin the unit. You may want to identify a few student helpers or an adult volunteer to work with you in stripping the ends of the wires and doing other assembly tasks. 2. To prepare the pieces of wire: Cut one 6-inch piece of wire. To do this task, you can use a stripping tool like the one shown in Materials Management of Section 3 of this guide, or any similar device. Next, strip approximately 3 4 inch of insulation from each end of the wire. This is necessary so students can use the wire to connect their circuits. 3. Plan to have students gather their own set of materials. Determine a location in the classroom where student access will be easy and where you can lay out the materials so the students can pick them up cafeteria style. For each student, set out one storage box, one piece of 6-inch wire with the insulation stripped off each end, one D-cell, and one small bulb. 4. Take some time to create a circuit that will light the bulb. Before class, work through Activity Sheet 1, which is found at the end of Lesson 3. You will not use the sheet in this lesson, but it will help you to understand the different ways to light the bulb. What Electricity Can Do / 11

6 Procedure 1. Ask your students to get out their notebooks. Remind students that they will be keeping a record of their findings and questions throughout the unit. The record will be writings as well as drawings. Now ask students to turn to the first page of their notebooks and to write the date on the page. Then have students draw a picture of a lightbulb. Tell students to save this drawing; they will refer back to it later in the unit. 2. Tell the students to put their names on their labels, which they should then place on their boxes. Then the boxes can be reused by other classes. 3. Have the students assemble their set of materials by picking up one box, one wire, one D-cell battery, and one bulb. A typical distribution station is shown in Figure 2-7 below. Figure 2-7 Typical distribution station 4. Ask students to open the boxes and remove the wire, the bulb, and the D-cell. Using only the wire, the bulb, and D-cell, ask each student to make the bulb light. As students work at this task, reassure them that it can be done. If they need coaching, ask: How could you connect together the wires, the D-cell, and the bulb to get the bulb to light? What are some different ways you could do it? The first student who succeeds in lighting the bulb usually lets out an excited yell. That initial excitement encourages other students to quickly solve the problem. Note: The excitement after first getting the bulb to light sometimes gives way to a desire to just see the bulb burn. Students may become very adept at finding small dark places in the room or in their desks that can be lit by the bulb. Allow children enough time to do these experiments, if possible. 12 / What Electricity Can Do

7 5. Circulate around the classroom as students work. Some students will short circuit the D-cell by inadvertently connecting the wire from one end of the D-cell to the other, without having the electricity go through the bulb; the D-cell and the wire will get warm. When this occurs, take the opportunity to discuss short circuits with the class. Short circuits are shown in Figures 2-5 and Have students draw the ways they got the bulbs to light on one page of their notebook and several ways the bulbs did not light on another page. Students should draw as many of their findings in their notebooks as they can during the lesson. 7. Have students use the magnetic compass, the D-cell battery, and the wire to investigate the effect of the circuit on the compass needle. 8. Have students draw the different ways the materials were arranged to make the compass needle move on one page of their notebooks, and the arrangements of materials when the compass needle did not move on another page. 9. About ten minutes before the end of the period, have students clean up and put their materials away. This will leave time for a final discussion with the class. Have them check that only four items are in their boxes the D-cell, the wire, the compass, and a bulb. Final Activities Extensions Assessment Ask the class to examine the drawings of the ways they got the bulbs to light and the ways the bulbs did not light, and the drawings of the ways they got the compass needles to move and the ways the compass needles did not move. Ask students to tell you something they have learned about how electricity works. SCIENCE It can be very useful at this point in the unit to set up a table with a box or two of the materials used in this lesson. This will give students a chance to experiment with circuits in their free time. Many students will beneflt from this extra time working with the materials. 1. The drawings of the lightbulbs will provide a useful contrast to the drawings the students make later in the unit. These drawings will provide a kind of pre- and post-test that can be used to show progress in the unit to parents or others who are interested. 2. Similarly, the students drawings of the circuits and whether the bulb lights and/or the compass needle moves show how well they can observe intricate parts and how much they understand about electricity. They can also provide a baseline against which to compare later drawings. 3. Your observations of each student s approach to problem solving will provide useful information. Some students will systematically try all possibilities, while others will learn from their classmates. Still others will give up or feel defeated. These students will need encouragement. What Electricity Can Do / 13

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2 12 2010 PulteGroup, Inc. All Rights Reserved. circuit breakers Circuit breakers protect your home s system from power failure. The wiring in your home is protected by circuit breakers. Circuit breakers,