Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Science

Christmas Science
Teach your kids about electrical circuits with your old Christmas lights!
Supplies: Strand of Christmas lights, scissors, C or D battery
Preparation: Cut a section of Christmas lights so you have one light bulb (see picture below) and approximately 2-3 inches of wire. Cut off the protective coating over the ends and expose the wire inside. 
Section of Christmas light strand
 Gather your supplies and your kids!

Supplies: Section of Christmas lights and battery
  1. Give your kids some time to experiment with the materials and try to light the bulb before you explain how a circuit works.
  2. Then tell them that they need to make an electrical circuit in order to light the bulb. The word circuit comes from the Latin circuitus, which means "to go around." Ask them to think about making a circle with the wires.
  3. If they don't figure it out, then show them how it is done. Hold one end of the wire to the positive end of the battery and the other to the negative end (see picture below).
Christmas Light Electrical Circuit
 Most strands of lights can yield a dozen or more light sections and kids love it. I have conducted this activity with Pre K - 5th graders.


Make it a full lesson plan with additional information and activities:
Introduction: Start the lesson by asking students if they can see electricity. No? That is because the electrons that make up electrical currents are so small they cannot even be seen with a microscope.
Activity: Stand in a circle and tell students you are forming an electrical circuit. You are the power source and you are sending electrons around the circuit to create an electrical current. An electrical current is what creates electricity. Pass an object, like a ball, around the circle. Now create a gap between two students and try passing the object again. Tell students that the circuit is broken and the electron can not "jump" over the gap, so there is no electricity forming.
Conclusion: Students draw a circuit in their science notebooks and label the light bulb, battery, and negative and positive ends of the battery.
Follow Up: Discuss electrical safety. Examples: Don't put inappropriate objects into electrical outlets. Don't mix water and electricity. Etc.

1 comment:

  1. Any type of electrical experiment is a great idea in my mind. Helping kids learn how it works and how dangerous it can be is so important.