Grade 4: Electrical Circuits (Mini-Unit)

Lessons at a Glance


Lesson 1: Discovering What Happens When Something Is Electrically Charged

Big Idea: Electrically charged objects attract or repel other objects.

Students get an introduction to the concept of static electricity in this lesson and the next one in this unit. In this lesson, students also discuss some experiences with static electricity and then observe the effects of electrically charged objects.

 

Lesson 2: Exploring Static Electricity Further

Big Idea: Electrically charged objects attract or repel other objects.

Students continue their exploration of static electricity. They electrically charge a variety of objects and observe how the electrically charged object attracts or repels other objects around it. In doing so, they further their understanding of static electricity; in particular that it can exert a force on other objects without touching them.

 

Lesson 3: Discovering How to Light a Bulb

Big Idea: For an electric current to flow, there must be a complete path or loop for it to follow around a circuit and return to its source.

This lesson introduces the concept of electric current and how it flows through a circuit. Students begin by drawing how they would light a bulb using one battery and one wire. Students then test their initial ideas and explore other configurations until they find some that work, learning the difference between a closed and an open circuit and how a switch and a source function.

 

Lesson 4: Making More Light Connections

Big Idea: For an electric current to flow, there must be a complete path or loop for it to follow around a circuit and return to its source.

This lesson reinforces concepts students put into practice in the previous lesson. They build a battery-bulb circuit using two wires. After holding materials together with their hands, they use a bulb holder and attach the wires with clips to observe how this method creates a complete circuit. They examine the inside of a light bulb, and observe that the circuit makes a complete loop through the wires of the bulb and its filament.

 

Lesson 5: Making Effects with Electric Current

Big Idea: For an electric current to flow, there must be a complete path or loop for it to follow around a circuit and return to its source. The flow of electric current can produce light, heat, sound, motion, or magnetic effects.

Students build on their experiences with constructing electrical circuits to make bulbs light. In a series of four brief investigations, they look into electrical circuits that produce motion, sound, and magnetic effects. They observe that adding a source of electric current makes a motor turn or a buzzer sound. They also take apart a motor, and observe the connections, copper wiring, and electromagnet inside it. Finally, students build and use an electromagnet.

 

Lesson 6: Identifying Conductors and Insulators

Big Idea: Some materials allow electric current to flow more easily than others.

Students identify and classify objects and materials as either conductors or insulators of electricity. After predicting whether an object will conduct electric current, they use a bulb and battery circuit as a tester. They record their results, and then find a pattern in the types of materials that work as conductors. Finally, they apply their knowledge of the materials to evaluating the design of a light bulb, extension cord, and an electricianís glove.

 

Lesson 7: Recognizing Electrical Hazards in Everyday Life

Big Idea: Some materials allow electric current to flow more easily than others. It is important to avoid electrical hazards by using electricity safely.

Students extend their understanding of conductors and insulators by identifying potential electrical hazards, discussing what makes them hazardous, and recognizing what they can do to prevent electrical hazards from occurring.