21st Century Lesson in Circuits

6-8 Team learns circuitryRemember learning about circuits in science class?

Perhaps you learned how electrical energy travels through a circuit from a source (battery) along a path (wire) to an appliance (light bulb.)

6-8 team students of Mr. Kennedy and Mr. Loar are learning about circuits utilizing 21st century technologies and with a higher level of sophistication.

Students utilize “kits” including the following resources:

  • 9 volt battery for a power source
  • Wire to serve as a “path”
  • Small LED lights in different colors and with wire prongs on the end
  • Breadboard (not wood, but a small plastic strip to which wires can be connected, and which are embedded with metal strips and rods capable of transmitting energy)
  • Microcontroller (a very small computer smaller than a credit card that can read input from sensors and/or set outputs)
  • Ultrasonic sensor


Provided with these materials, it is relatively simple to plug the lights into the breadboard and then use wires to connect a battery to the breadboard and lights. But to turn the lights off and on requires disconnecting ore reconnecting the wires.

Incorporating the microcontroller into the circuit creates the opportunity to control or program the lights to go on our off. For example, when the ultrasonic sensor is used in conjunction with the microcontroller lights may be triggered on when something approached the sensor. A laptop can also be connected to the microcontroller, and coding (computer programming) can be used to program lights to go on and off after a specified duration.

The study of circuits has definitely advanced!

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