Brief Description:

Students build circuits out of play-doh, LED lights, and a 9V battery.

Recommended Previous Activity:

Act Out Electricity! This activity will introduce students to the concepts of electrons, electron flow, switches, and batteries. These concepts will be necessary to understand how squishy circuits function.

Grades: 2-5

Time: 1 hour

Concepts: electricity, electrons, electron flow, batteries, circuits, electricity


Lesson Objectives

  • Students will understand the basics of a circuit, including the flow of electrons and roles of electrons, wire, switch, and battery
  • Students will be able to build a circuit that can successfully turn on an LED light

Materials

  • 9V batteries
  • Play-doh
  • LED lights
  • Optional: Alligator clips (these can be used to connect the battery to the play doh, thus reducing the mess and amount of play-doh that gets permanently stuck in the battery)

Procedure

  1. Review how a circuit works, explaining the components wires, batteries, and electrons.
    1. 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.
  2. In squishy circuits, the Play-doh serves as the wires because it is conductive. What does conductive mean? Conductivity is a material’s ability to transmit electricity, continuing electron flow.
  3. Pass out materials and allow students to create circuits that turn on the light
    1. Students often bypass the play-doh and place the LED light directly on the battery. Use this as an opportunity to explain what a short circuit is short circuit and the dangers of them (the LED wires will start to smoke, burn, and get really hot)
  4. Challenge the students to think of a way to make a switch within their circuit
    1. This will likely be a flap of play-doh that can be folded to close or open the circuit, but be open to new ideas.

Extensions and Modifications:

  • 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.

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