Introduction: Electrical Conductivity

The following information is a single lesson in a larger project. Find more great projects here.

Return to Previous Lesson: Electrify Your World

Lesson Overview:

Now we'll learn what and why something is conductive!

Step 1: Electrical Conductivity

Electrically conductive materials allow electrons to flow from one end to the other.

Conductivity is a measure of how easily electrons flow through a material. This flow of electrons is called a Current its units are called Amperes or Amps (example: 2.5 A).

There are a few different classifications of conductivity. The two basic categories are:

Conductor: enables current to flow easily. Circuit Scribe ink is a great conductor!

Insulator: does not allow current flow at all.

  1. Download the PDF of your circuit template and print!
  2. Draw the pads and lines on the printed paper.
  3. Put the components in place with the magnetboard.

Step 2: Conductive & Non-conductive Materials

Here is a basic sketch with a 9V Battery and a Bi-LED component to get started.

You're going to add a conductivity sensor to it so you can close the electric circuit with any object to test the conductivity of different materials from around your home or classroom.

  1. Open the Footprints overlay.
  2. Place a 2-Pad footprint centered above the other two modules. This will be your “conductivity sensor.”
  3. Connect the positive terminal of the battery to the closest pad of the 2-Pad footprint with the Circuit Scribe Conductive Pen.
  4. Connect the other pad to one end of the LED.
  5. Complete the circuit by connecting the other end of the LED to the negative (-) end of the battery.

Step 3: Printing the Circuit

In the online editor we can't test different materials to connect both pads together so let's go ahead and print this circuit.

  1. Download the PDF of your circuit template and print!
  2. Draw the pads and lines on the printed paper.
  3. Put the components in place with the magnetboard.

Step 4: Conductor or Insulator?

Using the LED as an indicator, press different materials over the pads to complete the printed circuit.

If the LED is on, this means the material is a conductor, otherwise it's an isolator.

Below are some examples. Which are conductors and which are insulators?

- Paperclip

- Pencil

- Pipe Cleaner

- Fabric

- Bottle Cap

- Rubber Band

- Key

- Aluminum Foil

- Refrigerator Magnet

- Mechanical Pencil Lead

- Your Finger

- Hair Clip

- Paper

  1. Download the PDF of your circuit template and print!
  2. Draw the pads and lines on the printed paper.
  3. Put the components in place with the magnetboard.

In the next lesson you will learn to about resistance and voltage!

Next Lesson:Electrical Resistance and Voltage

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