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McREL Standards Activity

Light Bright

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will have a basic understanding of how an electric circuit is set up.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
 Standard 9.Understands the sources and properties of energy
   Level III [Grade 6-8]
   Benchmark 10. Knows the organization of a simple electrical circuit (e.g., battery or generator, wire, a complete loop through which the electrical current can pass)
Student Product:Student groups will produce an electric circuit and diagram
Material & Resources:Each group will need: 1 "D" battery 1 flashlight bulb 1 strip of aluminum foil, twisted into a "wire" (copper wire can be used, but foil is easier to manipulate) paper and pen to draw their plans Other materials: additional batteries, light bulbs, and wire for later electrical tape
Teacher's Note:This is intended to be an exploratory activity; some student pairs may need teacher or peer assistance in attempting to figure out how a complete circuit is formed. The completed circuit will have one end of the "wire" (the twisted aluminum foil) wrapped around the base of the light bulb and the other end of the wire touching the bottom of the battery (the negative end). When the light bulb touches the top of the battery (the positive end), it will light. Additional batteries taped end to end will produce a brighter light.
For this activity, the students should work in pairs. Give each pair a set of materials--a small light bulb, a battery, and a wire. Explain to the students that their goal is to light up the lightbulb with the materials they were given. They must also draw and label a diagram of the finished product. Allow enough time for each group to make a complete circuit and diagram. After each group has completed the circuit, have the students brainstorm how they might make their light bulbs glow even brighter. Would more batteries make a brighter light? Or more light bulbs? Maybe a longer wire? Allow them to test their predictions.