Currently viewing the category: "Electricity and Magnetism"


Name of Activity Squishy Circuits and Circuit Diagrams
Author STOMP
Keywords squishy circuit, circuit diagram, electricity
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Using experience with squishy circuits and the symbols for elements in a circuit, students will practice building and drawing circuits. The circuits will have batteries, LED lights, and Play-Doh as resistors/wires (that bit can be confusing, especially when talking about short circuits!)
Lesson Objectives: The goal of this lesson is to introduce students to circuit diagrams and to get them to think about designing circuits. They will practice going back and forth between drawing circuits and building them. In addition, students will practice figuring out why a circuit isn’t working the way it’s meant to.
Materials Needed: Each group (2-3 students) should have:
9V battery
2 LED lights
2 Alligator clips to connect the battery to the rest of the circuits
A worksheet with example circuits for them to build and room for them to draw the circuits that they build
Preparation and Set Up: While one person introduces the class, the other person can distribute materials and worksheets to each group.
Necessary Background Teachers should be familiar with the symbols used and with the idea of a short circuit and the idea that electrons flow through the path of least resistance.
  • Start the class off by reviewing the different components of a circuit and their respective symbols (a good idea is to write these on the board so that everyone can see them).
  • While that’s going on, the other person can distribute materials.
  • Have the students fist try to look at an example circuit diagram and build it, showing the flow of electrons.
  • Then, have them build a new circuit and draw it.
  • After that, have them build a circuit from a diagram that has something wrong with it (a short circuit, an open circuit… etc), try to fix the circuit, and then fix the diagram and explain why it didn’t work.
  • Giving the students worksheets seems to work well for groups that go at their own pace. It also seems to keep the students focused especially when it comes to writing down and explaining their thoughts.
Extensions: If a group finishes early, they can play a game where one person draws a circuit (that either works or doesn’t) and the other person has to build it. If the circuit was purposefully designed to be broken, the other person also has to figure out how to fix it.
Modifications: use snap circuits instead of squishy circuits.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Intro to Electricity and Circuits


Name of Activity Alternative Energy With Snap Circuits
Author STOMP
Keywords energy, sources, snap circuits, batteries, cranks, mechanical, solar power
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 2-5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity students will explore snap circuits without the use of a snap circuit battery. Snap Circuits are great in that they come with other alternative sources of energy, such as the hand crank and solar panel. Students will use these new sources to explore series and parallel circuits.
Lesson Objectives: – Discuss energy and what it does
– Introduce students to other alternative sources of energy
– Explore the use of the mechanical crank and solar panels
– Review previous snap circuit lessons about: series and parallel circuits.
– Incorporate the mechanical crank and solar panels to old circuits (built last week) and new
– Have group and class discussions about specific circuits built
Materials Needed: Snap Circuit set (take out batteries)
Snap Circuit cranks (they break easily so remind classroom to be gentle)
Snap Circuit solar panels
extra snap circuit parts (wires, motors, lamps, resistors)
Preparation and Set Up: -Have a class discussion about sources of energy other than batteries
-Split up class into groups of two (groups of two ended up forming larger groups. For example when we did this lesson we ended up with a larger group focused on solar panels, another group focused on the crank, and a third group focused on a combination of both)
-Distribute snap circuit kits
Necessary Background -Parallel and Series Circuits
-Familiarity with Snap Circuit parts (new and old)
-How to write circuit diagrams (if you want your students to use them)
-Be able to discuss how power changes with how the solar panel and mechanical crank are used. For Example: more sun exposure or faster crank = quicker motors and brighter lamps (more power)
Procedure 1. Identify the problem: how do we build snap circuits without batteries?2. Discuss what the mechanical crank and solar panels do to provide power. Depending on the focus of your unit, you may also discuss climate change and why renewable resources are so important.

3. Have groups draw circuit diagrams  to brainstorm ideas, and make predictions of how the cranks and solar panels may differ from batteries.

4. Have groups decide on a few circuits to build.

5. Have groups build their circuits (incorporating cranks, solar panels, or both).

6. Test the circuit:

  • Have those with solar panels test near the window
  • Have those with cranks practice cranking (carefully since the cranks are delicate)

7. Have groups discuss:

  • What did these new tools do?
  • How did lamps, motors, or fans respond?
  • What is the electron flow in the circuit?

8. Have groups share with each other their circuits, integrate groups, have them build onto existing circuits or create new ones.  This part of the class was very open for exploration.

Modifications: Some groups began using found materials around the class to add onto the circuit. For example one group used tape to make a tower of fans powered by a solar panel.Open the circuit building to using other materials in the class room.
Previous Activity (if applicable)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

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