# Sidekick Circuits Sampler

Sidekick Circuits Activities Inside: • Light-a-Bulb Challenge • Sidekick Circuits

Elem

Elementary

Intermediate

Secondary

Subject Areas: Science Engineering

Technology

Teacher Information Background For many students, electricity is a magical force to which they give little thought. Turn on a switch, use electricity. Plug in the charger, use electricity. However, it is important that students understand the fundamentals behind the electricity they so gleefully consume. One important concept to understand is electric circuits. Electricity must have a conductor through which to move. Otherwise, the voltage behind an electric discharge, such as static electricity or lightning, must be very high. Circuits provide a pathway for electricity without requiring high voltages because they are constructed of conducting materials. The activities in this sampler introduce the most basic of DC circuits to students. In Light-a-Bulb Challenge, students are given a piece of wire or a strip of aluminum foil, a battery, and a miniature light bulb, and they must use those three items to light the bulb. They learn very quickly which parts of the battery are important for current flow and which parts are just along for the ride, so to speak. Sidekick Circuits is a fun circuit construction activity for students using NEED’s Energy Sidekick characters and holiday figures. Students insert the LEDs through an image to make a part of it illuminate. Students must then construct a circuit on the back of the image to power the LED. This activity makes a good formative assessment or parent night activity. Light-a-Bulb Challenge was originally created by NEED in Excellent Energy Engineering, a curriculum sampler with several other design challenges ranging from simple to complex. It is available for download by navigating to https://shop.need.org/collections/ curriculum-samplers/products/excellent-energy-engineering-freepdf-download. Additional exploration in electricity is available in NEED’s ElectroWorks unit, which includes a student and teacher guide. These can be downloaded for free by going to https://shop. need.org/collections/electricity-magnetism/products/electroworks.

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MATERIALS ACTIVITY

MATERIALS NEEDED

Light-a-Bulb Challenge

Small light bulbs D-cell batteries Alligator clips Aluminum foil strips

Paper clips Other conducting materials Objects to test for conductance Tape (masking, electrical, etc.)

Sidekick Circuits

Adhesive-backed copper conductive tape* Button batteries LEDs Small binder clips

Tape Art supplies

*Adhesive-backed copper conductive tape can be sourced via many online retailers such as Amazon or ULINE.

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light-a-bulb challenge This activity can be found within the following NEED titles at shop.NEED.org: Excellent Energy Engineering ElectroWorks

 Time 20-40 minutes

Background Most kids know how to connect a battery, in a battery holder, to a light bulb in a socket and light the bulb. However, do they know which part(s) of the battery and bulb are actively involved in completing the circuit? Understanding conductors, insulators, and open and closed circuits are standards across the country, and this activity can help your students understand what, exactly, is making them work. This activity is based loosely on the circuits activities found in NEED’s ElectroWorks unit, but is more open-ended than the prescribed activities. The challenge asks students to be able to complete an electrical circuit given some basic materials and little else.

Design Parameters Provided with a battery and a small light bulb, find materials and use them to light the bulb with the battery. Students may not use things like Snap Circuits or building toys with electronics built-in. Designs may not include pre-manufactured circuit boards, battery holders, light bulb sockets, etc. Designs may be held together with tape, but should not be soldered together.

Testing Parameter There is only one parameter for this challenge: If the light bulb lights, the design is successful.

Suggested Materials Small light bulbs (flashlight-sized, 1.5v bulbs work well) D-cell batteries Aluminum foil strips Paper clips

Other conducting materials Alligator clips Objects to test for conductance Tape (masking, electrical, etc.)

Teachers’ Cheats &amp; Safety Notes D-cell batteries are the most cost-effective cells to use for this activity. AA or AAA batteries are the same voltage as D-cell, but produce less current and if short-circuited will run out of power faster. However, they are an excellent alternative or option to challenge students. Do not use a 9-volt battery. The 9-volt is too powerful for the bulbs used in this activity. Batteries connected to bulbs with thin wires will heat the wires very quickly. Also, connection points on the battery and bulb may get hot, so students should always tape them in place rather than holding connections together with their fingers. The simplest circuit can be constructed with one battery, one light bulb, and one wire or strip, as shown in the diagram to the left.

Extensions and Enrichment Substitute the small incandescent bulbs with LEDs. You can get LEDs from failed strings of holiday lights or individual from online retailers and hobby shops. Pay attention to the voltage, if purchasing, to be sure they will add to a multiple of 1.5 volts. Note: LEDs only allow current to flow in one direction, so if it does not work as connected, reverse the connection. Give students more than one battery, have them connect the batteries in series (positive to negative), and compare the brightness of the bulb. Give students some random objects to insert in their light bulb circuits. Have students classify them as a conductor or insulator based on their results.

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Sidekick circuits Background Electricity travels in loops called circuits. A circuit can be series or parallel. Series circuits provide only one pathway for electricity to flow, while parallel circuits provide two or more pathways. This activity introduces the concept of circuits and provides a fun way to show others how a circuit works. This activity also makes a great parent night or community night activity.

Objectives Students will be able to build a series or parallel circuit. Students will understand that LEDs require current flow in one direction only.

Materials 1 or 2 LEDs Adhesive-backed copper conductive tape (approximately 24-36 inches per student or set of graphics)

1 Button battery 1 Sidekick or holiday line drawing 1 Small binder clip Art supplies

Notes The wind and propane sidekicks have been formatted so you can print their pictures on one side, and a series template (wind) or a parallel template (propane) on the back, if you wish. This allows you to differentiate for students who struggle to draw their own circuit pathway. The circles indicate the placement of the button battery. When the corner is folded over, the circuit is closed. The remaining sidekick drawings are all presented on successive pages. As you make copies for your students, make sure you only print two drawings per sheet of paper, leaving one side of the paper blank.

Series and parallel circuits are a core concept in the ElectroWorks curriculum unit. The Student Guide, pages 26-27 and 31-32, has simple circuits activities demonstrating series and parallel circuits. Both teacher and student guides can be downloaded from https:// shop.need.org/collections/ electricity-magnetism/ products/electroworks.

 Time 1-2 class periods

Preparation Gather materials. Make enough copies of sidekicks so every student or group has one. See notes above for information on printing. Make copies of the informational text for each student. Build a sample circuit for students to study.

Procedure 1. Introduce the activity to students. Explain series and parallel circuits by reading the informational text on circuits. 2. Have students begin with the wind and propane sidekicks if they have minimal circuits background, as the diagrams are already complete. As students become more comfortable they can progress to the others and draw their own circuit pathways and light the sidekicks in interesting ways. 3. Distribute materials. Assist students as necessary. 4. Allow students a bit of time to demonstrate their sidekick circuits in action. If time allows, permit students to color or decorate their sidekicks. You may opt to have them color prior to circuit assembly.

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CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE

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5. Ask students how their sidekick circuit is similar to objects or wiring in their homes or at school. Most homes are wired so that rooms will have their own series circuits, one for the wall outlets and one for the lights. These series “room” circuits are all parallel to each other from the breaker box or fuse panel for the home. The sidekick circuit is also illustrative of a simple table lamp. The switch in the lamp is represented by the folding and unfolding of the corner to connect the battery to the other half of the circuit.

Tips and Troubleshooting If students’ LEDs won’t light, remove the battery, flip it, and try again. LEDs only light when the current flows in the correct direction. If an LED still won’t light, double check that the voltage of the LED is compatible with the battery. Ends of copper tape can be overlapped, but take care to not create a short circuit. If students are being challenged with a parallel circuit, have them draw the circuit lightly in pencil before constructing the circuit from copper tape. They will not be able to light multiple LEDs with a series circuit. This activity is a great formative assessment for series circuits. To this end, we recommend having students complete the activity individually if at all possible.

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Sidekick Circuits www.NEED.org

Sidekick circuits These are NEED’s Energy Sidekicks. They represent the ten energy sources. Which energy source do you use most? Which Energy Sidekick do you like best?

The sidekicks are going to help you learn a little about electricity. Electricity travels in closed loops, or circuits. It must have a complete path before the electrons can move. If a circuit is open, the electrons cannot flow. When we flip on a light switch, we close a circuit. The electricity flows from the electric wire through the light and back into the wire. When we flip the switch off, we open the circuit. No electricity flows to the light.

Electric Circuits FLOW OF ELECTRONS

When we turn on the TV, electricity flows through wires inside the set, producing pictures and sound. Sometimes electricity runs motors— in washers or mixers. Electricity does a lot of work for us. We use it many times each day. In the United States, we use electricity to light our homes, schools, and businesses. We use it to warm and cool our homes and help us clean them. Electricity runs our TVs, DVD players, video games, and computers. It cooks our food and washes the dishes. It mows our lawns and blows the leaves away. It can even run our cars. Have you ever wondered why some materials are used more often in electrical devices than others? It is because some objects conduct electricity better. A conductor is a material in which the outer electrons are not held as tightly as they are in other materials. When electrons are able to flow easily from atom to atom in an object, we call the object a conductor. If the electrons are not able to easily move around, we call the substance an insulator. Most metals make good conductors, with silver and copper being the best. Most non-metals are poor conductors. Substances such as plastic and rubber are good insulators and are used to coat wires used in electrical circuits.

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WIRES

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CLOSED SWITCH

A closed circuit is a complete path allowing electricity to flow from the energy source to the load. FLOW OF ELECTRONS

WIRES

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OPEN SWITCH

An open circuit has a break in the path. There is no flow of electricity because the electrons cannot complete the circuit.

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Sidekick circuits Your teacher is going to give you a picture of one of the sidekicks and one or two LEDs. Choose where on the sidekick’s face you would like to place the LED. Perhaps the eyes, if you have two? Or one in the head to show when it has a bright idea? If you’d like to, color your picture before moving on. Your job is to make a circuit with copper tape on the back of the picture with the LED(s) poking through, so that when you fold up the corner, the battery touches the other end of the circuit, the circuit closes, and the LED lights. If the LED does not light, you may have installed the battery the wrong direction in the circuit. Just disconnect it, flip it over, and reattach it. Then try again. An LED will only light if the current flows in the correct direction. If you have two LEDs, your teacher may instruct you to build a parallel circuit that lights them both. Or, with your teacher’s permission, you may decide to do this as an extra challenge!

emitted light epoxy case

LED chip

reflecting cup photons p-type layer p-n type junction n-type layer cathode lead

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Sidekick circuits How Light Emitting Diodes Work 1. Diodes are made of semiconductors and conducting materials that need to be added to the semiconductor. In an LED the most common conductor added is aluminum-gallium-arsenide (AlGaAs). The AlGaAs is “doped” by adding small amounts of another material. One material will have more valence electrons than AlGaAs, and another doping material will have fewer electrons. The two doped materials are put together in a crystal. The material with more electrons is the “n-type” (n for negative) and the material with fewer electrons is the “p-type” (p for positive). When these materials are sandwiched together, the electrons move to balance themselves out. The area between the materials, called the p-n junction, is also called the “depletion zone.” 2. Connecting a power source to the diode, such as a battery, provides electric current that carries electrical energy. The electrons in the n-type are repelled by the electric current, and move through the depletion zone to the p-type. They are energized, and will want to return to their original, unenergized state in the n-type.

How Light Emitting Diodes Work

Current Flow

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n-type

p-type

Battery Current Flow

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p-type

n-type

3. When the electrons move back through the depletion zone to the n-type, they release energy as light. This is the light that we see from the LED. This process continues over and over again–electrons absorbing energy, moving, then moving back and releasing the energy, until the power supply is disconnected or depleted. 4. Connecting the power supply in the wrong orientation does not allow the LED to work. Instead, it merely increases the size of the depletion zone. Therefore, it is important that LED’s be wired to their power supply in the correct orientation.

p-type

n-type

Battery

No Current Flows

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n-type

p-type Increased Depletion Zone

Battery

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