|KEY CONCEPTS TO BE LEARNED
Before you teach a unit on electricity, you must cover the concepts
of magnetism and then tie in electromagnetism.
Having this background knowledge will be helpful for the students.
To begin my study on electricity, I wanted my students to think about what
life would be like if they had to live a day without it. Therefore,
they wrote about what they would do if they had a day without electricity.
They loved sharing their stories and drew pictures to go along with their
We talked about electrical safety, and the students were amazed at
how many things depend on electricity. From here stemmed an assignment
where they drew electrical safety posters. We shared these on our
hallway bulletin board for others to see. Before we delved into experimenting
with batteries, wires and bulbs, I wanted my students to understand how
a light bulb works. Therefore, I brought in various different types
of bulbs for them to examine. Then they drew their own light bulb,
labeling the various parts. I modeled the names of the different
parts on the overhead projector.
At this point I felt it was time to get into the STC Electric Circuits
kits. I've used these kits for two years now, and find them teacher
and student friendly. I do suggest that the teacher try doing each
lab before the students so you can see the outcomes and possible problems
that the students might have. I, also, recommend that all materials for
labs are put in individual baskets on one table. Assign one student
to be the Materials Manager, getting and returning all materials from the
table. Check supplies regularly to be sure they are in good working order.
With these kits, the students learned about the different ways to
connect a battery, wire and bulb to get the bulb to light. They found new
ways to create circuits. They explored the usage of a battery holder,
a light bulb socket and their Fahnestock clips to build circuits.
At times, this was frustrating to some students who could not keep the
wires attached. They found that their perseverance paid off, and
were so excited when their goal was accomplished. Once my students were
comfortable with making circuits and circuit testers, we moved onto testing
materials to see if they were good conductors or not. It was here
that students made the connection that all things do not conduct electricity
and that some things act as insulators. They realized that this was
a good thing in certain situations.
As we approached the end of our unit, I wanted my students to learn
about series and parallel circuits. They worked with many bulbs,
batteries, wires, bulb holders and battery holders. I introduced
switches which was a whole new concept for them. This was so challenging
for them, especially as they added more and more to their circuits.
They had to be sure that all the connections were correct, and I guided
them as they corrected circuits that they could not get to light. They
loved making these circuits and learning why things were wired in these
different ways. I required my students to draw the circuits they
made. The kit supplies electrical symbols that represent electrical
parts in their circuits. We used these in our drawings, in addition
to drawing diagrams of their circuits with the materials they used to make
them. Their diagrams were a good means of assessment.
To culminate this unit, I had my students make science games. To
do this, I paired the students. They had to choose a unit from their science
text and come up with 8 - 10 questions and answers for their game board.
I gave them each an 8 x 11 manila folder, and the amount of metal paper
fasteners needed. They needed enough wires (@14 cm long) to connect
their questions to their answers on the inside of the folder where they
have the hidden circuits wired. I asked my students to give their game
boards a wacky title and to decorate them with lots of color. They
fully enjoyed this activity. It gave them a chance to go back to
prior science lessons and reflect on what they already learned, while some
chose to do current lessons in science. One of the best things about doing
this activity was that my students invited the 3rd and 4th grades in to
play their games. The other students enjoyed playing their game boards
very much. My students were so proud of what they had accomplished.