Learning about electricity and the way it works is an important step in understanding how we use electricity in our day to day lives. Many simple experiments and projects use small amounts of electricity and are suitable for elementary and middle school aged students to learn about electricity.
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Danish scientist Hans Christian Oersted proved the link between magnetism and electricity in 1819 with an experiment that is simple to replicate. Oersted taped a magnetised needle to a cork and floated it in water, observing how it moved when a magnet was moved near it. He then created a simple circuit by passing wire over the dish of water in which the needle was floating and connected it to a circuit and power source. When the switch is turned on, the needle will be deflected away from the current at right angles.
Different parts of a circuit are generally represented in diagrams by specific, universal symbols. Try mapping out circuits of varying complexity (for example, that would light two or more bulbs, or use a switch to light different bulbs) and then attempt to wire it into a working circuit board.
Steady Hand Game
By creating this steady hand game, you can demonstrate a simple circuit. Make a "wand" out of a stretch of stripped wire with a loop in the end. Feed another length of stripped wire through it and bend it into a curved line, creating a maze or course to pass the wand over. Thread the ends of the wire through holes in a shoebox lid, mount with tape, and connect one end to a battery or power source. Use another strip of insulated wire to connect a low-power light bulb to the back end of the wand. Now, try to pass the wand over the wire. Any time you touch the wand to the wire you will close the circuit and the bulb will light up.
Build An Alternating Switch
Rig up a simple circuit board by running copper wire, stripped at the ends, from a battery or power source through an insulated alternating switch. Wire one light bulb onto each side of the switch. Try using two different coloured bulbs to increase the effect. Each time the switch is flipped, it will alternate closing different sides of the circuit so the bulbs will turn on and off. Try inserting different lengths of pencil into your circuit as resistors by connecting the graphite tips to the wires.
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