September 15, 2013

Make a Simple Circuit with Common Household Items

The following is a guest post post from author Colleen Kessler.

If you want something to work – your computer, a flashlight, your brother’s remote control car – the electricity needs to move through a circuit. A circuit is the path the electricity flows. I like to remember that it’s like a CIRcle since CIRcuit starts the same way.

All circuits work the same way. Electricity leaves the source of its power, travels the path, and goes back to the other side of the power source in an unbroken path. So, for example, in a flashlight, the power leaves the negative end of the battery, travels through the wires to the bulb, then through more wires and back to the positive end of the battery.

What’s really cool about electricity and circuits is that you can make one at home without any special equipment. Ready to try?

You’ll need:
  • aluminum foil
  • tape
  • a D-cell battery
  • a small light bulb {maybe from a flashlight}

Try it this way:

  1. Cut two pieces of aluminum foil and fold them into strips.
  2. Tape one to the positive end of the battery and the other to the negative end.
  3. Touch one strip to the bulb, just under the glass.
  4. Touch the other strip to the silver tip on the end of the bulb.
  5. The bulb should light up because you have created an unbroken circuit with your “wires.”

If you really want your kids to have some fun, let them play with this for a bit. Ask them what would happen if they added two {or more} batteries, or more wires. Better yet, give them wires and more bulbs and batteries to try out. I keep wires, wire cutters, batteries, bulbs, bulb holders, switches, buzzers, and battery holders in a small plastic container and let the kids play with them when they want.

If they're interested in exploring more, Science for Smart Kids: Electricity and Magnetism, an eBook for kids is full of more than 20 activities that explore and engage kids, encouraging critical thinking, and challenging them to find things to explore in their own world.

There’s something really cool about being allowed to freely explore with wires and batteries. 

And what’s great is, if you want to set something up, the materials are inexpensive. If you’re interested in doing this with your kids, the foil and tape will work well and will elicit the “that’s cool” response we’re hoping for. But, if you want more materials, they’re easy to find online or in science supply catalogs. If you’re looking for ideas, check out the carousel below for some supplies we own {these are affiliate links}.

1 comment:

  1. I have a little science wiz at my house he would absolutely love these kinds of books! I am currently searching for some holiday books for the kids. I have a couple that I would recommend by Barbara Ward, She has The Snowman Maker and The Reindeer Keeper. Those are some stocking stuffer ideas, just as these science books would be. Thanks for the ideas!