Day 63: Battery, Bulb, Wire

Monday, 10 November 2014

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Can you light a bulb using only one wire, one battery, and one bulb? (Probably apocryphal, but MIT engineers supposedly struggle with this question.) This is easily my top unit intro activity — I did it last year on Day 67. We’re starting our electric circuits unit this week.

I asked them to sketch what doesn’t work:

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After we found all the different configurations to light the bulb, the kids wondered what would happen if they used more batteries:

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When you ask the kids what it takes to make the bulb light, they tell me “a circuit”. I ask “why?” They say “so the electricity flow.” I ask “what’s electricity?” They’re stumped. I ask “what do you mean by circuit?” They say “a loop of connected wires or parts.” We’re already hinting at ideas like serial (batteries), positive and negative terminals, current, voltage, and even short circuits.

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