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Discovering Electricity! How to make a simple circuit

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The following is a guest post from Colleen Kessler of Raising Lifelong Learners.

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

Making a circuit with your kids is an easy way to demonstrate how electricity works.

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?

Materials Needed for a Simple Circuit

How to build a simple circuit

  • aluminum foil
  • tape
  • a D-cell battery
  • a small light bulb {maybe from a flashlight}

How to Make a Simple Circuit

Step 1: Cut two pieces of aluminum foil and fold them into strips. These will be your wires for the circuit.

Step 2: Tape one to the positive end of the battery and the other to the negative end.

Make a Simple Circuit

Step 3: Touch one strip to the metal part of the bulb, just under the glass.

Step 4: Touch the other strip to the silver tip on the end of the bulb.

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.

How to make a simple circuit

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.

Have you explored electricity with your kids? What were some of your favorite activities?

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This article was written by a Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers guest author. See the author's full bio in the body of the post.


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