What child (or adult) doesn’t get SPARKED UP by playing with electricity kits? I don’t know if I have ever taught a student who doesn’t CHEER when I pull these kits out. They are $60 from Lakeshore. You really need one box per group of about 4 students. These are likely out of a teacher’s budget, so I would advocate for writing a grant from Donor’s Choose for them. The only downside is that the lightbulb holders broke easily. I also have the magnet kits from Lakeshore…equally as great.
As a science teacher, it is ESSENTIAL that you let your students EXPLORE without you feeding them the answers! Let them discover and investigate. Teachers – – WALK AWAY. DON’T TALK. Watch magic happen! I let students have a chunk of time at the beginning of my electricity unit to play with these kits. I watch….and smile…and hear, “Miss Baldree, “Did you know…..?” Why, of course I do. But it is more powerful when students DISCOVER.
The first few weeks of our electricity unit we investigate with static electricity. We play with balloons, bend water with balloons (so cool!), pick up objects using charged plastic.
It’s soooo exciting for them AND me! My students haven’t learned about atoms yet, so a little introduction about atoms is essential. We use discovery for repel and attract. I LOVE the simulation through PHET – John Travoltage which cracks me up! PHET has super simulations. I also use PHET simulations for repel and attract using static electricity & balloons. Very useful. I love showing videos of lightning in slow motion too.
My favorite part of the electricity unit is playing with circuits. Kids could do this ALL DAY LONG. They need to correctly label the load, pathway, power source, and switch. They need to know that if there are 2+ batteries with 1 load (light) then the light is extra strong because it has double the strength. But, if there is only 1 battery with 2 lights then the lights are dim. My students learn about conductors and insulators by building circuits and substituting other materials in place of the wire. If it works, it’s a conductor and electricity passes through easily. If not, it’s an insulator and electricity won’t pass through.
Of course, this is a great unit to throw out science puns like…
- Your good looks are SHOCKING!
- You are HOT stuff!
- You ELECTRIFY my soul!