Instructional Material: Hands-on Circuits Lab

Four Parts of a Circuit

Ideally, students will have supplies to build their own simple circuits, or alternatively, the teacher will have one set and performance a demonstration for the class.  These supplies would include:

  • 9V battery
  • battery clip
  • alligator clip wires
  • switch
  • incandescent lamp

Build a simple circuit and allow students see to how all four parts are necessary for the circuit to function.

Insulators. Conductors. Semiconductors

This simple circuit can then be used as a insulator/conductor tester.  Open the circuit at point (break the conducting path) and place the two disconnected wires at opposite end of different sample materials.  If the lamp illuminates the material is a conductor, if it does not, the material is an insulator. Have students make a prediction before each test. Some materials to try are:

  • paper, waxed paper and tin foil (thickness of material does not determine whether it is insulator/conductor)
  • penny, toothpick, Lego part
  • student offered items

For semiconductors, use a LED (Light Emitting Diode) lamp in place of the incandescent lamp. A diode is the simplest semiconductor device.  It will conductor electricity (lamp will illuminate) only when inserted in the the circuit in one direction.  Diodes allow electricity to flow in one direction, but not the other.

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Education Level: 
Middle School
High School
Focus Subject: 
Robotics Hardware
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