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
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One Response to Squishy Circuits and Circuit Diagrams

  1. Lisa Fantini says:

    We (Akari and I) did a similar activity, except we only used aluminum foil, play-doh, paper-clips, rubber bands (to show them something that is not conductive), and LED’s.

    We also had a had a cool introduction. We told them about how 65 million years ago, dinosaurs went extinct because a meteor lifted up a cloud of dust that remained in the sky for years, leading to the death of plants, herbivores, and then carnivores. So in our activity we went back in time to help the dinosaurs and give them light so that the plants, and dinosaurs, could survive. We briefly explained that batteries have two doors from which energy leaves and enters, and this energy must pass through a light bulb. We handed out a plastic bag with a battery, aluminum foil, a rubber band, and an LED light, play-doh and had them figure out how to make the LED light up. At the end we discussed what went wrong and why. We then asked them what they wanted to learn for the remained of the semester.

    They did not enjoy the electricity activity since many of them became frustrated when the LED didn’t work, or the battery burned out. They also did not know what to do once they got it working. We should have introduced an additional challenge, or given them more materials.

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