Complete Circuit, Circuit Board Project

About: The name Cat’s Science Club comes from my daughter Aly, whom I call Aly Cat. She inspired me to take my love of science, and the fun I have with my students, to as many people as I can. Both my daughters hel...

This Instructable covers standards in Science for grades 3,4, and 7. I use this activity with my fourth graders and have used it in the fifth and sixth grade several years back.

Use your circuit tester (direction to build here) to help build a circuit board. We will build a simple circuit board to “spark” students interest and discuss key concepts.

Below are 3rd and 4th grade standards covered by this Instructable!

Heat, electrical energy, light, sound and magnetic energy are forms of energy. (3) … Electrical circuit or solar panel models can be used to demonstrate different forms of energy and the source of the energy… (3) Energy can be transformed from one form to another or can be transferred from one location to another. (4) Electric circuits require a complete loop of conducting materials through which an electrical energy can be transferred. (4) Electrical energy in circuits can be transformed to other forms of energy, including light, heat, sound and motion. (4) Electrical conductors are materials through which electricity can flow easily. Electricity introduced to one part of the object spreads to other parts of the object. (4) Electrical insulators are materials through which electricity cannot flow easily. Electricity introduced to one part of the object does not spread to other parts of the object. (4) In order for electricity to flow through a circuit, there must be a complete loop through which the electricity can pass. When an electrical device (e.g., lamp, buzzer, motor) is not part of a complete loop, the device will not work. Electric circuits must be introduced in the laboratory by testing different combinations of electrical components. When an electrical device is a part of a complete loop, the electrical energy can be changed into light, sound, heat or magnetic energy. Electrical devices in a working circuit often get warmer. (4)
Electrical energy transfers when an electrical source is connected in a complete electrical circuit to an electrical device. (7) An electric circuit exists when an energy source (e.g., battery, generator, solar cell) is connected to an electrical device (e.g., light bulb, motor) in a closed circuit. The energy source transfers energy to charges in the circuit. Charges flow through the circuit. Electric potential is a measure of the potential electrical energy of each charge. (7)

Step 1: Materials Needed

For this activity each student or group of students will need a single hole punch, making tape, piece of paper (card stock works best), and strips of foil. Circuit Tester from up coming Instructable or Voltmeter.

Attached is a template similar to ours.

Step 2: Punch

Punch holes along one side of the paper and then the other. Try to have the holes across from each other on the other side of the paper. You will end up with two columns on opposite sides of the paper.

Step 3: Run Foil

Run one piece of thin foil from one hole to another on opposite side. Use a piece of tape to hold the ends of the foil in place.

Make sure the foil is visible through the hole on the other side of the paper.

Step 4: Cover

Cover the one piece completely with masking tape.

The foil will act as a conductor, allowing the electrons to flow through.

The masking tape acts as an insulator, preventing the electrons to flow through.

It is important to completely cover the foil with tape on this side. If even the slightest part of foil touches the other foil pieces, we will be putting on later, there will be a short. The connection will not work they way it is intended.

According to Google, "A short circuit is a problem in an electrical circuit where two or more wires that are not supposed to come in contact with each other touch. A short circuit can result in a very high current flowing through the circuit. ... A "short circuit" also happens when there is a bypass of electrical current."

Step 5: Continue

Continue adding foil to the paper and completely covering with masking tape.

Step 6: Complete! ;-)

Now that the foil (conductor) and the masking tape (insulator) is all done, check connections. You could use a voltmeter or a circuit tester like ours. Touch one hole on the left to one hole at a time on the right. The circuit will complete and you will have a complete circuit.

We have our students make up their own review questions and answers to match the complete circuits. After all the circuit boards are done we pass them from student to student to check for shorts and to review.

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