Middly found some torch kits online and he wanted to have a go at making them, so I ran a session about electricity to give us a good excuse!
I wasn’t actually very pleased with the kits that arrived. I found them poor quality and we had to fix them before the children were able to make the torches, so I would rather not give a link to the site from which we bought the torches. We won’t be using them again.
After a bit of quick work at home to prepare simple kits, all the children were able to make little torches.
Once the children had made the torches, we talked briefly about the importance of completing electric circuits.
For our next activity, I wanted to do a quick experiment to identify good conductors of electricity. I gave each child this instruction sheet ElectricityExperiment and all the required supplies. The children tested a few common household items for conductivity.
We talked about what objects conducted electricity well.
I tried to demonstrate why metals are such good conductors of electricity. I showed the children a tray with tennis balls stuck to it, and explained that the tennis balls represented the nuclei of metal atoms. Then I tipped a bag of small polystyrene balls onto the tray and explained that in a metal the electrons are not bound strongly to their nuclei, but instead are free to move in a ‘sea of electrons’. I tipped the tray slightly and the polystyrene balls ran from one end of the tray to the other. I explained to the children that it is the relatively free movement of these electrons that allows electricity to flow so well through a metal.
I found this craft on Home Science Tools. And I thought it would be a perfect addition to our electricity session. The children taped an LED and a battery to the top of a sheet of card, they attached hanging wires: one to the LED and one to the battery. Then they wrote quiz questions on the sheet of card, with the answers laid out so that they were not directly opposite the questions. On the back of the card, they attached the questions to the correct answers with a piece of wire held between two paperclips.