- Fourth Grade
- 110 minutes
- Standards: 4-PS3-4
Mad scientists! In this lesson, your students will explore electrical circuits and engage in a hands-on activity to create them. They will identify the differences between parallel and series circuits.
Students will be able to construct series and parallel circuits to create electricity, as well as analyze the advantages and disadvantages of both.
Introduction (10 minutes)
- Give students three minutes to write all the ways that they have used electricity that day.
- Ask students to write down all they know about electricity.
Explicit Instruction/Teacher Modeling (20 minutes)
- Show students a photograph of a city during a blackout and a photograph of a city with electricity.
- Guide the whole group in completing a Venn diagram on the board comparing and contrasting the two photographs.
- Show students the diagrams of series and parallel circuits.
Guided Practice/Interactive Modeling (30 minutes)
- Divide your class into groups.
- Give each group an electrical circuit kit to explore.
- Direct your students to create a series circuit and a parallel circuit.
- Instruct your students to take videos of their circuits in action. Have them record every trial they attempt.
- Have them show their progress in journals, writing and drawing what their circuits look like and do.
Independent Working Time (25 minutes)
- On their own, have each student conduct research regarding the advantages and disadvantages of series and parallel circuits.
- Give your students access to computers or books that explain in more detail how circuits function.
- Going back to their groups, have your students discuss the role of each circuit in different settings.
- Enrichment: Ask your students to brainstorm a list of related topics. Have them conduct independent investigations and create a presentation to share with the class.
- Support: Provide written research materials in a variety of reading levels. Have them refer to these materials while they are creating circuits in groups.
- Have your students use video cameras to document their process.
- Encourage them to use online resources to find information about series and parallel circuits.
Related Books and/or Media
- Switch On, Switch Off by Melvin Berger
Assessment (15 minutes)
- Watch each of the students' videos, ensuring that by the end of the session, they have learned the differences between series and parallel circuits.
Review and Closing (10 minutes)
- Select one group's video to demonstrate to the class.
- Show your students the correct way to make series and parallel circuits.
- Discuss real world examples of where these circuits might be found.