Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Simple Circuit STEAM Fun!

This year in my 4th/5th grade combination class we have been having a blast with science. We have spent quite a bit of time perfecting our simple circuits. After learning about current electricity and circuits we dove right into the experiment portion of our investigation. We created a number of simple circuits using a variety of materials.

Index Card Circuit

The first circuit was a very simple circuit using a minimum of supplies purchased from Amazon.
1 Index Card
2 pieces of Copper Tape (one piece needs to be slightly longer than the other)
1 LED
1 3-Volt Coin Cell Battery

I introduced current electricity with a Bill Nye video (the kids LOVED it). I then modeled how to make the simple circuit and then turned the kids loose! The foil took a little getting used to and the kids were able to manipulate it with a little practice. I taught them how to use both hands while taking off the white paper, and a partner also came in handy for this step.

Step 1: Label one side of the index card with a + and one side with a -.
Step 2: Peel off the white paper for the short copper tape. Open the LED lead wires slightly and place the cooper tape over the lead wire and run it down the index card.
Step 3: Peel off the white paper for the long piece of copper tape and attach to the long LED. Run the rest of the tape down the index card but fold the tape over on itself at the bottom to create a switch. The long LED lead and long tape side will be the positive side and the short side will be the negative side.
Step 4: Place the negative side of the battery on the negative side of the circuit on the copper tape. Place the switch on the positive side of the battery to turn on the circuit.




Troubleshooting: If the circuit does not turn on, make sure the copper tape is adhering to the LED leads. Use a fingernail to smooth it out. Also check that your switch is not tearing, causing a break in the circuit.

My students then created a diagram of their simple circuit. To grab the diagram click here!

We began with this circuit because it was fairly basic. We tried a more complex circuit next!

Aluminum Wire Circuit

This circuit was definitely more difficult than the index card circuit. We talked a lot about growth mindset before we began so students remembered that this circuit would take some adjusting, trouble shooting, and lots of persistence!

Materials:
Aluminum Wire or Copper Wire
Electrical Tape
LED
Metal Fastener (Brad)
3-Volt Coin Cell Battery

I created a tutorial for my students and you can check it out below!



Once we completed the creation of the circuits, I had my students create videos describing how their circuit works. This was a great assessment and really helped me see which students had a in depth understanding of current electricity. You can check out my example video below.

The used these circuits to test the conductivity of materials in the classroom. We recorded the data on a conductors and insulators page. You can grab the page here.

Circuit Landscapes

The last circuit project was an arts integration activity. The students were to research a landscape that would be created out of oil pastels on cardboard. They then would be creating a circuit on the back with a switch to light up their art with up to 4 LED. The students got really creative and created space scenes, night scenes, the Eiffel Tower, and nature scenes. Take a peek at some of the creations below!

Supplies:
Cardboard
Chalkboard Paint Spray
Switches
Pre-wired LED
Copper Tape
3 Volt Coin Cell Battery
Pastels








I hope you enjoyed learning about our circuits! These were definite favorites of my students this year! Feel free to email or comment with questions!










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