Class Circuit Acting





Name of Activity Class Circuit Acting
Author STOMP
Keywords acting, circuit, electricity, resistors, current, switches, battery, electrons, protons, charge
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will work as a whole to play different parts in a circuit. There will be live presentations of electron flow, and the entire class will need to work together in a circle to make the circuit run.
Lesson Objectives: To teach the role of: wires, protons, electrons, batteries, resistors and switches.
Materials Needed: -Plastic balls (half labeled with a positive sign and the rest labeled with a negative sign)
-Two buckets: one will act as the proton side of the battery, and the other will act as the negative side of the battery.
-Signs that students can wear. Each will be assigned the symbol of either a resistor, switch (open switch on one one side of the sign and closed switch on the other), and a lamp. Students linking hands will serve to be wire.
Preparation and Set Up: Prepare all the proton and electron balls in their buckets. Have signs ready in order to assign roles to students. Before setting up the class in a circle to begin the activity, it is important to go over briefly the different parts of the circuit.
Necessary Background Understand the role of wires, resistors, open switches, and closed switches. Also understand the role of the battery and how electrons are the ones that flow throughout the circuit (use electron flow not conventional current).
  1. Introduce all materials: balls with plus signs are protons, balls with negative signs are electrons, one bucket represents the positive terminal of the battery, another bucket represents the negative terminal of the battery, signs will be assigned to different students one by one.
  2. Get students together in a circle with the buckets filled with their respective balls also in the circle.
  3. Explain that the bucket with the protons will not be touched since the electrons will be the ones that move (electron flow).
  4. Explain that the first student will grab a ball from the electron bucket and pass it on the the student next to them.  This first student can grab more balls from the bucket and continue passing as long as all students follow the rule that you can only pass the electron if the next student doesn’t already have one.
  5. That electron will be continued to be passed around the classroom until the last student drops it into the proton bucket.
  6. Explain that all electrons move (current formed) due to attraction to protons, and that is why all the electrons end up in the proton bucket at the end.
  7. Once all electrons are exhausted explain that each student in this circuit acted as wire (wire is a path for electrons to move through).  Also explain that a circuit with only a batter and wire is a short circuit.
  8. Explain why short circuits are dangerous, and therefore circuits need resistors.
  9. Bring all electrons back to the negative terminal bucket to restart the process, this time with a new part.
  10. Introduce the first sign and assign 1 or 2 or 3 students the role of a resistor.
  11. Any student who is the resistor must count 3-5 seconds when the electron reaches them before passing it on to the next student.  This will help illustrate that resistors slow down electrons.
  12.  Restart the circuit and introduce a new sign: the switch.
  13. The switch will have an open switch on one side and a closed switch on the other.  Assign this role to a student.
  14. Start off with the open switch and attempt the activity.  Keep resistor rolls in to keep practicing the role of a resistor.  Once the electron reaches the student acting as the open switch stop the class. Ask the students if the electrons will keep moving or not.  Discuss why.
  15. Restart the circuit again this time with a closed switch.  Ask why switches might be used in a circuit.
  16. Introduce the last sign: the lamp.  When the electrons reach the student acting as a lamp let them recreate what would happen (maybe jump up to show brightness or hold the electron above their head for a moment).
  17. Review the parts of a circuit in one last run through.
Extensions: This activity is a version of an already existing activity. This activity was created because it differed from the existing version. The other version can be found under online references.
Modifications: Bring in signs of different parts: diodes, motors, and fans.
Reference 1
Online Reference(s)
Previous Activity (if applicable)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable)

Squishy Circuits, Conductors, and Insulators





Name of Activity Squishy Circuits, Conductors and Insulators
Author STOMP
Keywords squishy, circuit, LED, insulator, conductor
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 3, 4, 5
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description In this activity, the students will use previous knowledge about the basic components of a circuits to build a circuit that will light an LED light. In addition, they will predict which of a series of household materials will act as conductors and insulators – they will then test their predictions in the circuit.
Lesson Objectives: To get students to apply their knowledge of circuits and electricity to make a circuit.
Materials Needed: 9V batteries
LED batteries
rubber bands
paper clips
Procedure 1. distribute materials 2.



Name of Activity Building a Flashlight
Author STOMP
Keywords circuit, electricity, flashlight, build, switch
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students are asked to create a flashlight using previous knowledge about electricity and circuits.
Lesson Objectives: -Introduce students to making circuits with real wires rather than Playdough, as in squishy circuits.
-Explain the importance of a switch (ie being able to open and close a circuit to turn a light or other object on or off)
Materials Needed: -D or 9V batteries
-Electrical wire
-Electrical tape
-Toilet paper rolls or other objects that can be used as the flashlight body
-Other items to make the flashlight more user-friendly?
Preparation and Set Up: -Collect materials
-Ensure each group will have two electrical wires, pre-cut and pre-stripped
Necessary Background Students should have been exposed to electricity and circuits previously. They should have explored the importance of circuits and particularly switches in circuits.
  1. Divide students into pairs or groups of 3-4.
  2. Distribute materials.
  3. Allow students to try to make their circuit work with little guidance at first.
  4. Encourage students to incorporate a switch into their design and to “package” the circuit such that it can be used as a flashlight.
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism

Squishy Circuits





Name of Activity Squishy Circuits
Author STOMP
Keywords squishy, circuit, electricity, LED, playdough, non-lego
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Squishy circuits allows for students to make a simplified circuit using Playdough as wires.
Lesson Objectives: Students will be introduced to the concept of circuits and attempt to make their own circuit using a power source, conductive wires, and lightbulbs.
Materials Needed: -Playdough
-9V Batteries
-LED Lightbulbs
Preparation and Set Up: -Pack supplies. Ensure that there are extras of everything, in case a battery has died or some of the LEDs are not functioning properly.
-Arrange students in pairs.
-Distribute materials.
Necessary Background Students should be introduced to the concept of circuits as well as the necessary components to each circuit. What are some common circuits that we use every day? It may be helpful also to explain to them the properties of Playdough that would make it useful in a circuit.
  1. Arrange students in pairs.
  2. Distribute materials.
  3. Allow students to spend some time trying to get the LEDs to light up themselves, offering guidance only when deemed necessary.
  4. If students are still stumped, it may be time to give hints to them as to why their circuit is not working. The most common issue is that the Playdough wires will be touching. Some groups may not even make two separate wires.
  5. Ensure students understand why their circuit is or is not working by the end of the activity (1-2 weeks, as you see fit).
Online Reference(s)
Umbrella Unit/Curriculum (if applicable) Electricity & Magnetism

LEGO House





Name of Activity LEGO House
Author Emily Taintor
Keywords LEGO, house, building, town, electricity, circuit, light, bulb, constraints, construction, squishy circuits
Subject Non-LEGO, LEGO Building
Grade Level 3, 4, 5
Time 3 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will build LEGO houses that are lit by LED bulbs to certain design constraints.
Lesson Objectives: - Introduce students to LEGO building under design constraints
- Familiarize students with the process of planning and implementing a circuit
Materials Needed: - LEGO Bricks
- LED Bulbs
- Wires (or playdough)
- House bases (for the design constraint)
- Batteries
- Alligator clips
Preparation and Set Up: - Give each group a base, bricks, an LED bulb, and wire (or playdough)
- Explain design constraints
Necessary Background Basic electricity information, LEGO familiarity
  1. Distribute materials
  2. Explain design constraints
  3. Students should begin by constructing a LEGO House to whatever design constraints the instructors decide upon. Our class had size and height constraints (had to fit on the small base, had to be big enough for a LEGO man to live in) but they could be any sort of design constraint, service learning-related or otherwise. During the building process the students should be considering how they want to wire the house so that an LED bulb can light the inside of the house from a battery on the outside of the house.
  4. Once the house has been constructed, have the students plan out the circuit that they want to use to light the house. We had the students use just one LED bulb so the circuits were very basic.
  5. Students should wire the house so that the LED bulb lights the inside of the house from a battery on the outside. We used playdough instead of wires to create the circuit to build off of the squishy circuits activity, so they had a lot of flexibility on implementing the actual circuit.
  6. Students should assemble their houses in one big “town” and present their houses to the rest of the class. Students should be able to explain their circuit to the class, as well.
Extensions: - Make the house more realistic (make the light connect to the ceiling or look like a lamp)
- Give more specific design constraints
- Use more than one bulb per house – would create better diversity of solutions
- Have groups of students create ‘neighborhoods’ so that they have to combine their circuits to connect to one communal energy source

Ohm’s Law and Series Circuits





Name of Activity Ohm’s Law and Series Circuits
Author STOMP
Keywords circuit, electricity, Ohm’s Law, voltage, resistance, current
Subject Non-LEGO
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 1 Hour Total
Brief Description Students will build a simple circuit using previous knowledge about electricity. They will use Ohm’s Law to analyze the circuit.
Lesson Objectives: - To introduce electricity, circuits, and electrical engineering.
- To apply Ohm’s law to real circuits.
Materials Needed: - 24 Gauge AWG wire, cut to 8 inch lengths w/stripped ends. Give each student group 5 – 6 8 inch pieces.
- 9V battery with connector plate.
- 2 1-Watt light bulbs with lamp bases.
- 2 Toggle switches.
- Alligator clip.
Preparation and Set Up: - Make a copy of the worksheet for each student.
- Prepare a demo circuit.

- Arrange students in groups of 2 – 3.

- Distribute materials.

Necessary Background Ohm’s Law describes the relationship between the voltage, current, and resistance of a circuit. This relationship is given in the relationship Voltage = Current x Resistance. Knowing this relationship, it is possible to find any of the three values as long as the other two are known.

Ohm’s Law

  1. Go though slides 6 – 8 of the attached Powerpoint
  2. Go over your demo circuit and calculate the current using Ohm’s law Current (amps) = Voltage/Resistance
    1. Voltage can be found on the side of a battery (9V for this activity).
    2. Resistance is about 81 ohms for each light bulb.
  3. Distribute the worksheets and materials and assist the students in creating the circuits and calculating the current using Ohm’s law.
Extensions or Modifications: Design on paper a circuit of your choice, using whatever size battery and resistors you want. Calculate the Voltage, Resistance and Current in your circuit. Your teacher will show you a circuit that she or she has built. Draw a circuit diagram representing it.
Reference 1
Reference 2
Reference 3
Reference 4
Reference 5

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