4th Grade Science : Unit #9 - Energy is Electric! : Lesson #3

Basic Circuits - Day 1

Objective: Students will learn the different symbols used in circuit diagrams and understand the difference between a parallel and series circuit.
Standards: 4-PS3-2
Subject(s): Science
60 minutes
1 RAP - Review and Preview - 5 minutes

I call students to the gathering area. I tell them that we have shared all we know about electricity and learned a small part of the history of electricity. I tell them that over the next few days we are going to learn how to draw and build different kinds of circuits. First we need to understand the basics of circuit design and how to draw them. When we know how to do this we will build them together.

How To Teach Circuits
Lesson Planning

You may have electrical circuit kits in your school. You can use these, Snap Circuits kits, or make your own kits using squishy circuits play dough, a battery pack, and some LED lights. This lesson will use squishy circuits dough. I chose this method as it allows students to “play” while they are learning. They can build fun objects, while learning the difference between conductors and insulators.

2 Guided Investigation - 15 minutes

I show students a poster with the various symbols used to represent the different components of a circuit. I describe each component to students so they can recognize them as we learn about basic circuits.

We talk about the fact that we have to have stored energy (potential energy) in the form of a battery/cell or a power supply. We need something to conduct the electricity in the form of wire or a conductor, and we need an on/off switch of some kind to interrupt or complete the circuit. As I am talking about each component I draw a simple circuit as in the teacher notes. I ask students how they might test if a circuit is working. I am looking for students to tell me that they need something such as a fan, buzzer, bulb, etc. to show that there is current flowing.  Students should also indicate that the switch should be closed to complete the circuit.

I ask students to use the Symbols poster and to draw the circuit I have just drawn and to add a component into the circuit that would indicate that the current is flowing through the circuit. The switch should be closed as well to complete the circuit.

I check students’ drawings and then introduce the concepts of series and parallel circuits. We draw these together as well. Students can do this in their science notebooks or on whiteboards for easy checking.

3 Wrap Up - 5 minutes

I call students’ attention to the different types of circuits and different components that we can use in a circuit. I tell students that we will use this information in the next lesson to build circuits and test them. You can use the teacher notes from the section above to assess for accuracy of drawings.

Student artifacts attached are helpful too.

4 Assessment - 5 minutes

I will complete a quick check of student drawings of each type of circuit. I will check for accuracy and completeness.