Electronics and electricity have become vital to our world. They help operate everything from refrigerators to calculators and computers, so it's important for children to understand some of the basic principles of electronics. Kids can illustrate electronic and electrical ideas with simple science projects. These projects can be completed in a few minutes and created with objects around the house.
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Simple Electric Motor
Electric motors help power many things. Kids can create a simple electric motor using materials from around the house. All they need is a D battery, a rubber band, two paper clips, a ceramic magnet, magnet wire, a toilet paper tube and some sandpaper. Start by wrapping the wire around the toilet paper tube -- leaving part of both ends of the wire straight and extending from the coil. Use sandpaper to remove the insulation from both ends of the wire. Each paper clip is bent into a loop and is held onto the D battery by using the rubber band. The wire coil is then placed on the free ends of both paper clip loops, which form a cradle for the ends of the wire. The wire coil will slowly start to spin in place on top of the paper clip loops.
Electromagnets use electricity to create a powerful magnet out of any piece of metal. They are used in many ways. For example, electromagnets are used in junkyard cranes. Kids can make a simple electromagnet using a piece of metal, insulated wire and a low volt DC power supply such as a large alkaline battery. For the metal, a nail works just fine. Kids simply wrap the piece of wire around the metal in tight, regular coils. They should cover as much of metal as possible. They then attach the free ends of the wire to the power source. A low level electrical current will flow around the metal, creating a magnetic pull. The magnet will now pick up small pieces of metal and stick to the refrigerator as long as the electrical current is connected. Disconnecting the power source turns off the magnet.
Water is one of the most important elements on Earth and one of the most primal. Electricity and water can interact in interesting ways that your child can illustrate in a simple way using static electricity. Turn on a source of water and let it run. Grab a comb or a balloon and rub it on your hair. You may also wish to rub a plastic rod on some wool. Make sure you do this vigorously to create maximum static electricity. Once you're finished, hold the object near the water. The water stream should bend away from the object. Move the object around the stream to see how the water reacts to the object. This is a great project for kids in a science fair as it requires little set up but has an impressive and immediate effect.
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