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)

NXT Musical Instrument





Name of Activity NXT Musical Instrument
Author Jay Clark
Keywords Mary Had A Little Lamb, simple song, NXT, switches, sensors, task, instrument, wiring, math blocks, programming, loops, MINDSTORMS, Music Engineering, numerical frequency, audible, pitch, 2 Hours Total
Subject NXTs
Grade Level 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9+
Time 2 Hours Total
Brief Description Students will play “Mary Had A Little Lamb” and other simple songs on their NXT using switches and touch sensors. When students complete that task, they will make an instrument using other sensors, requiring wiring and math blocks in their programs.
Lesson Objectives: Learn about loops, switches, and math blocks
Introduce Musical Instrument Engineering
Understand the relationship between numerical frequency and audible pitch
Materials Needed: NXT Kit
Computer with MINDSTORMS NXT software
Necessary Background Mary had a little lamb is a simple song consisting of just three notes. The notes and corresponding lyrics are below:


ma-ry had a lit-tle lamb


lit-tle lamb, lit-tle lamb


mar-y had a lit-tle lamb


whose fleece was white as snow

All musical notes have a corresponding frequency. Concert A (or middle A) is 440 Hz. In order to play mary had a little lamb using a light or distance sensor, you must know the frequencies of the three notes you’re using:

C – 262

D – 294

E – 330


frequency – the rate at which a vibration occurs. Determines the pitch of a note.

Procedure Introduction Introduce switches to the students. A switch is a program structure that makes decisions based on external criteria, such as a sensor value. Introduce the lesson. Show the students the notes of Mary had a little lamb. Ask them how many touch sensors they would need to play it. Guide them to realize that they could use 2, and there are 4 opportunities for notes to play with two touch sensors: Left pressed, right pressed, both pressed, none pressed. Guide them through brainstorming how the program should look. Usually it’s hard for them to see that the second switch is required. ActivityHave the students program their robots to be able to play mary had a little lamb using switch blocks and sound blocks. When they finish, have them use another sensor and wiring and math blocks in their program to create another musical instrument. Or allow them to use switches with another sensor to set up ranges for each note.
Extensions: Play a different song!
Use touch sensors in conjunction with another sensor to set the octave.
Reference 1

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