Brief Description:

Students learn about circuits and build their own using snap circuits.

Recommended Previous Activity:

Act Out Electricity! This activity will introduce students to the concepts of electrons, electron flow, resistors, batteries, and switches, all of which are components of snap circuits.

Grades: 4-8

Time: 1 hour

Concepts: electricity, circuits, electrons, electron flow, resistors, batteries, switches, snap circuits, parallel circuit, series circuit, alternative energy

Lesson Objectives:

  • Students will understand the basics of a circuit, including the flow of electrons and roles of a wire, battery, switch, and resistor within a circuit.
  • Students will be able to build a circuit that can successfully turn on a light and/or fan
  • Students will understand the difference between a parallel and series circuits


  • Snap Circuit kits. Make sure that each kit has a functioning battery pack.


  1. From doing the Act Out Electricity activity, students should be familiar with the concepts of a battery, wire, resistor, switch, and lightbulb.
    1. Review: A battery serves as the energy source for the circuit. A wire is a path through which electrons move. Electrons flow from the negative end of the battery to the positive end. The movement of these electrons is referred to as current. Resistors serve to reduce current flow. A switch serves to turn a circuit on and off by closing and opening the circuit respectively.
  2. Explain which part of the circuit corresponds with each snap circuit piece.
  3. Allow students to spend some time creating a circuit that can turn on the light bulb or the fan.
  4. Introduce the ideas of parallel and series circuits. A parallel circuit has two or more paths through which current can flow. A series circuit only has one path through which current flows.
    1. Parallel Circuit:
    2. Series Circuit:
  5. Challenge students to turn on both the lightbulb and the fan at the same time. If students were successful, ask them if they used a parallel or series circuit? Which one worked better? Why?
  6. If time allows, challenge students to see if they can control whether the lightbulb and fan are turned on at the same time. Explore using resistors and switches.

Extensions and Modifications:


  • Alternative Energy with Snap Circuits


      • The previous challenges used batteries as the energy source to power their circuits. However, snap circuits also have solar panels and hand-cranks that can be used for energy instead.
        • Solar Panel:Hand Crank:
      • The solar panel and hand crank are examples of alternative energy. Alternative energy is energy that is generated in ways that do not deplete natural resources or harm the environment, especially by avoiding the use of fossil fuels and nuclear power. Can the students think of other examples of alternative energy?
      • Have students test to see if they can build working circuits powered by one of these alternative energy sources.
      • Discuss how power changes depending on how the solar panel and mechanical crank are used. For Example: more sun exposure or faster crank = quicker motors and brighter lamps (more power)
      • Notes: The solar panels do not work under classroom lights. They will only function in sunlight so students will have to work near a window or outside in order for these to work. The hand cranks also break fairly easily, so remind students to be gentle!
    • Build a Flashlight: Using what they learned about circuitry in this lesson, students can use real wires, electrical tape, 9V batteries, toilet paper rolls, and LED lights to construct a flashlight.


  • Introduce circuit diagrams. Have students translate their built circuits into a circuit diagram and vice versa.



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