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In this lab, students will learn about closed and open circuits. Students will use holiday lights, a battery, and foil to make a closed circuit.
By the end of this lab, students should be able to
- Identify a closed and open circuit.
- Use materials to create a circuit that can conduct electricity.
- Understand the meaning of electricity.
- Identify examples of circuits used in everyday life.
This lab supports students’ understanding of
- Closed and open circuits
Teacher Preparation: 10-20 minutes
Lesson: Two—25 minute lessons
- 1 holiday/Christmas light with wires attached per student (see photo)
- 2 pieces of foil (about 4 in. x 6 in.) per student
- 1 AA battery per student
- Tape (to hold down the pieces of foil)
- Make sure the Christmas lights are not plugged into an outlet while the teacher or students are trying to remove the bulbs from the circuit.
- The teacher should know and understand the chemistry vocabulary.
- Circuit: A path through which electrical current can flow
- Circuit Diagram: An illustrative picture used to explain the paths through which electricity can flow.
- Closed Circuit: a complete electrical circuit around which current flows or a signal circulates
- Open Circuit: an incomplete electrical circuit in which no current flows
- Write each vocabulary word (electricity, circuit, open circuit, and closed circuit) on a notecard and the definition on opposite side.
- Precut the lights and test them before the lesson. Make sure to cut some of the plastic off to expose some wire (see photo).
- Precut the foil before the lesson.
- You can have your students draw a picture of the activity that they did showing how to make an open and closed circuit.
Day 1: Learning Objective: Circuit vocabulary – Electricity, circuit, open circuit, and closed circuit
- Step 1: Show the YouTube video on electrical circuits.
- Step 2: Split the students into 4 groups.
- Step 3: Give each small group one of the vocabulary notecards. Each group will become an expert scientist on that specific vocabulary word. Then each will share their knowledge of the vocabulary word with the group as a whole.
- Step 4: After each group has had a chance to explain their vocabulary word. Give students the student handout page in order to write down the vocabulary words that they just learned.
Day 2 Learning Objective: Making the Connection!
- Step 1: Hold up the vocabulary cards and ask students to explain what each vocabulary word means.
- Step 2: Have students take out their student page from day 1. They will be making the circuit on this page. Give each student 2 pieces of foil, a light section of Christmas lights, 2 pieces of tape, and a battery.
- Step 3: Student will then use the materials to try and make a closed circuit which will make the Christmas light come on. The students should take the foil and wrap it around the exposed wires. The will then put one end of the wire wrapped foil on the positive side of the battery and the other end of the wire wrapped foil on the negative foil which will complete the circuit and make the light come on.
- Step 4: If students are unable to make the light come on, show them how to do put the foil on the ends of the wire of the light and explain that it has to be connected to a power or an energy source in order for it to work.
- Step 5: For those students who get it immediately, the can pair with other students who are finished to see if they can use all of their materials to make a larger circuit.
- Step 6: Think-Pair-Share
- Ask the group the question, how are circuits used in everyday life?
- Think on your own (silent)
- Share with an elbow partner
- Create a chart as a classroom team
- Step 7: Classroom discussion
- What do we have on the chart that was the same/different?
- What are Electrical Circuits? by Ronald Monroe
- Making a Circuit (It’s Electric!) By Chris Oxlade
- What is a Circuit? by Ethan Weingarten
- Circuits by Theodore Buchanan
For the Student
Define the following words:
- Closed Circuit-
- Open Circuit-
Draw a picture of your circuit. Label it. Explain what is needed for the lightbulb to light!
How are circuits used in everyday life?