This lesson was designed for a Physical Science class. The objective (NC.PS.3.3.2) states "Explain simple series and parallel DC circuits in terms of Ohm’s law." Students often have a difficult time understanding how a circuit works and the difference between a parallel and series circuit.

The students are first introduced to the topic with a formative assessment probe titled “Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires” from Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: Another 25 Formative Assessment Probes Vol. 3 (Keeley, Eberly, and Dorsey, p57). The activity requires students to describe and draw the process of lighting a lightbulb using wire and a battery. At this point the teacher would want to lead an introductory discussion/lecture on electricity and circuits. Here are a few videos that may be helpful:

The students are first introduced to the topic with a formative assessment probe titled “Batteries, Bulbs, and Wires” from Uncovering Student Ideas in Science: Another 25 Formative Assessment Probes Vol. 3 (Keeley, Eberly, and Dorsey, p57). The activity requires students to describe and draw the process of lighting a lightbulb using wire and a battery. At this point the teacher would want to lead an introductory discussion/lecture on electricity and circuits. Here are a few videos that may be helpful:

Use the

The worksheets below allow students to annotate their answers and record the circuits they build:

Parallel Bulbs App Worksheet

Serial Bulbs App Worksheet

If you do not have iPads available a equivalent guided practice or web-based activity would suffice.

*Parallel Bulbs*app and the*Serial Bulbs*app as a tutorial for students to practice parallel and series circuits. The apps are each $0.99 at the iTunes store and there are also free Lite versions. Click on the images above to find out more.The worksheets below allow students to annotate their answers and record the circuits they build:

Parallel Bulbs App Worksheet

Serial Bulbs App Worksheet

If you do not have iPads available a equivalent guided practice or web-based activity would suffice.

To introduce the Flashlight Engineering Activity students should first be given a lightbulb, wires, and a single D-cell battery and asked to figure out how to light the bulb. While many students may have had no problem drawing the correct circuit, students struggle with actually physically building a circuit. It is helpful for the Engineering Activity if students have this basic knowledge.

Students should then be introduced to the Engineering Design Process. The problem for this activity is:

How can you design the brightest working flashlight from the following materials:

Students should then be organized into pairs and given time to research their problem using their resources (textbook, notes, SmartPhone, iPad). Then give each group is given 15 minutes to draw their design and then 20 minutes to build and test their first prototype. Students should then be allowed 10-15 minutes to redesign their flashlight.

When finished, require students to sketch and label the design for their final product including a circuit drawing for their light. Collect and compare the final circuit drawings to the original probe answers for formative assessment.

How can you design the brightest working flashlight from the following materials:

- Light bulb
- Card stock
- Tubing
- Insulated copper wire
- Various switches
- Paperclips
- Masking tape
- Electricians tape
- Tacks
- 2 D-cell batteries
- Foil
- Baking cups
- brass fasteners

Students should then be organized into pairs and given time to research their problem using their resources (textbook, notes, SmartPhone, iPad). Then give each group is given 15 minutes to draw their design and then 20 minutes to build and test their first prototype. Students should then be allowed 10-15 minutes to redesign their flashlight.

When finished, require students to sketch and label the design for their final product including a circuit drawing for their light. Collect and compare the final circuit drawings to the original probe answers for formative assessment.

References

Keeley, P., Eberle, F. and Dorsey, C. (2008). Uncovering student ideas in science: 25 new formative assessment probes. (Vol. 3). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.

Keeley, P., Eberle, F. and Dorsey, C. (2008). Uncovering student ideas in science: 25 new formative assessment probes. (Vol. 3). Arlington, VA: NSTA Press.