That’s what Ms. Sparling’s 4-6 team science students are learning through a series of hands-on activities using batteries, wires, light bulbs, switches and more.
An electric circuit is an electric current – made up of electrons moving in a path – that flows continuously. It is formed with components consisting of conductors (most often wires) and a power source (such as a battery) and may also include load elements (like light bulbs.) Another important component is an insulator. Insulators protect people and other things from the harmful electric current flowing through a wire. Insulators are usually rubber, since rubber does not conduct electricity and is often used in insulated wires (aka rubber-wrapped wires.)
Ms. Sparling’s students first experienced the difference between open and closed circuits using a battery, insulated wires and a small light bulb. When the circuit was closed (with everything connected in a circle) the light bulb was lit; but when the circuit/circle was broken/open the light bulb went out.
Next students used critical thinking and problem solving skills to determine how to incorporate a switch into the circuit. (Ms. Sparling was available to help them attach wires to the switch, but the students needed to determine where the wires should be attached to create a closed circuit.)
The next step: exploring a series circuit versus a parallel circuit and how the brightness of the light bulb is affected.