You can teach children how electricity travels through common household items such as flashlights and digital clocks by creating a simple circuit board. A circuit is the path through which electricity travels. Complex circuits are in a computer's circuit chip, and simple circuits are in a bedroom's night light, but both variations generally work the same way. Types of circuits range from parallel, switched, integrated and fused circuits to circuits that run in a series, such as a string of Christmas lights. No matter the type of circuit, electricity flows through all circuits at a rapid pace.
Testing Electricity with the Children
Cut a section of holiday lights six inches from the left and right side of a single bulb using the wire strippers. Strip off a half inch of insulating wire on both wire ends to expose the bare wire.
Trim the insulated wire into seven sections that are 12 inches in length using your wire strippers. Strip off a half inch of insulating wire on both wire ends to expose the bare wire.
Draw two straight parallel lines of same length on the cardboard using a ruler.
Create six evenly spaced dots about one inch apart on each line. Position the dots on each line directly across from each other. Label the dots on one line from A through to F. Label the dots on the other line from 1 through to 6.
Poke a metal fastener through each dot on both lines and fasten it underneath the cardboard.
Turn over the cardboard. Using the labeling as a guide, attach one piece of the 12-inch wire to the metal fastener in the "A" position. Next, attach the other end of the wire to the metal fastener in the "1" position—directly across from the "A" position. Twist the ends of the wire around each metal fastener. Use masking tape to secure the connection if required. Repeat this process for reminder of the metal fasteners ensuring the correct wire placement position. Turn the cardboard back over when you are done.
Twist one end of wire around one prong on the battery using the seventh-piece of 12-inch wire. Tape the connection into place using masking tape. Twist the other end of the wire around a large paperclip.
Twist one end of the six-inch wire from the holiday lights around the remaining prong on the battery. Tape the connection into place using masking tape. Twist the other end of the holiday lights around a large paperclip.
Test different electricity pathways with your children by using the paperclips to touch the metal fastener dots on each line at the same time.
- String of holiday lights
- 7 feet of insulated wire
- Wire strippers
- 9 volt battery
- 12 small metal fasteners
- 8x11 inch piece of cardboard
- Masking tape
- Two large paper clips
Be careful not to burn yourself as the battery can become hot when electricity starts to flow through it.