Energy with Circuits
Grades: Elementary, Makerspace
Estimated Time: 120 minutes
Lesson Objectives: Students will create 2 forms of energy in this workshop (wind and electrical)
Within the Grade 4, CA standards require circuitry in the curriculum. This lesson incorporates cross-functional fields of arts, circuitry, and science. This lesson plan is submitted by Nancy Barlow, Maker Education at Bullis Charter School, Los Altos, CA.
- Colored Construction Paper
- Straws (Jumbo and regular)
- Pinwheel Template
- Circuit Stickers (1-2 per student).
- Copper Tape* (1 foot per student). Have some extra for experimentation.
- CR2032 Lithium Coin Cell Battery** (One per student)
- Hole punch
**The edges on the copper tape can be sharp. Watch your fingertips!
**Store your batteries separately, and away from other bits of metal. This avoids accidental connections that can drain the batteries.
0. Pre-lesson Activities/Preparation: Prior to this activity, we did several sessions on circuits:
- Discussed different types of energy
- Shared a video on circuits:
- Discussed electricity concepts:
- Power Source
- Had class discussion where they made observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from palace to place by sound, heat and electrical currents.
- Did classroom activity where they drew circuit paths
- Introduce Chibitronics and simple circuit
- Showed class the video to show how art and technology can be incorporated
- Showed a working demo of simple circuit template on projector
- Create pinwheel
- Glue pinwheel to colored paper.
- Cut along solid lines
- Punch holes where there are circles.
- Cut 2 slits in JUMBO ½ straw opposite each other.
- Fold corners up so holes match up on paper.
- Put jump straw through ad fold slits down.
- Tape slits down.
- Put small straw through Jumbo
- Light it up.
- This was a free form time where students were encouraged to design their circuit on their own or with others.
• How will you power the circuit?
• Where will you place the battery?
• What type of circuit do you want to make? (simple vs. series/parallel circuit
If their circuits are not working, give students opportunities to troubleshoot. Allow them to identify the problem themselves and support them if they need scaffolding. You could also encourage them to ask their peers for help.
4. Decorate. Encourage students to decorate their pinwheels and share with the group.
5. Share. Give students a chance to share their learning experiences with the group.
• How would I do this differently?
• What are some ideas for projects that I can make using circuits?
• What are the things I am curious to know more about circuits and energy?
Alignment to Standards
We think the following standards are most relevant to this activity. You could adapt this list for your class session. The complete list of all the standards can be found on the respective websites of each framework.
- Empowered Learner 1d: Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
- Fourth Grade Physical Science 1) You can build series and parallel circuits with wires, batteries and bulbs
- Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
You could also refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy as part of your classroom assessment.