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Pathway: Is Aluminum an Electrical Conductor? (page 2)

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Author: Janice VanCleave

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Connecting only a single foil strip from the battery to the bulb will not light it. A closed circuit (an unbroken current) leading from one end of the battery the other is necessary for the electrons to flow through and cause the bulb to light. The position of the parts of an electrical switch affects whether a circuit is a closed circuit or an open circuit (a broken circuit). Make a switch by wrapping the end of an aluminum foil strip around one end of a small paper clip. Make a small hole near the edge of a 4-inch (10-cm) square piece of cardboard. Place the foil-wrapped end of the paper clip over the hole, bend the rest of the foil strip behind the cardboard, and tape it down. Push a paper fastener through the hole, and bend back the ends of the fastener against the cardboard. Make a second hole 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) from the first hole. Push a second paper fastener through and bend back its ends underneath. This fastener will be called the contact point and its ends should not touch the foil or ends of the other fastener. Take the circuit tester from the original experiment and clip the material holder to the cardboard so that the foil strip is in the jaws of the pin. Press the metal bottom of the tester's bulb against the top of the contact point. Rotate the paper clip so that it touches the contact point to switch on the light.

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If electric charges cannot travel through a material, then that material is a nonconductor. Use a physical science text to find out more about conductors and nonconductors. What is an electrical insulator?

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