Author:
Melody Casey
Subject:
Science
Material Type:
Lesson Plan
Level:
Middle School
Grade:
7
Tags:
  • IRPSCI
    License:
    Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial
    Language:
    English

    Education Standards

    It's Electric! (AIG IRP)

    It's Electric! (AIG IRP)

    Overview

    Within the physical science strand of 7th grade science, students focus on understanding forms of energy, energy transfer, and transformation and conservation in mechanical systems. In this task, students investigate “mystery boxes” and use a student-constructed circuit tester to determine the location of closed circuits. Students will then create their own “mystery boxes” including both series and parallel circuits. Finally, students will then create study guides for other content areas using their understanding of closed circuits. The application and interdisciplinary nature of this lesson allows students to creatively build meaningful connections while promoting 21st Century Skills. This lesson was developed by NCDPI as part of the Academically and/or Intellectually Gifted Instructional Resources Project. This lesson plan has been vetted at the state level for standards alignment, AIG focus, and content accuracy.

    Lesson Overview

    Brief Description of Lesson/Task/Activity: Within the physical science strand of 7th grade science, students focus on understanding forms of energy, energy transfer, and transformation and conservation in mechanical systems.  In this task, students investigate “mystery boxes” and use a student-constructed circuit tester to determine the location of closed circuits.  Students will then create their own “mystery boxes” including both series and parallel circuits.  Finally, students will then create study guides for other content areas using their understanding of closed circuits. The application and interdisciplinary nature of this lesson allows students to creatively build meaningful connections while promoting 21st Century Skills.

    Time Frame: 2 class meetings (60 min each)

    Type of Differentiation for AIGs:

    • Enrichment

    Adaptations for AIGs:

    • Process
    • Product

    Explanation of How Resource is Appropriate for AIGs: AIG students in the middle grades need opportunities to plan, implement, and explain sequential processes through writing and diagrams as these skills will be essential in advanced courses (AP sciences, etc.). The investigative nature of the engagement activity encourages the development of the metacognitive and evaluative/evidentiary reasoning abilities of these students. The creative aspect of this assignment will also allow AIG students to integrate their own interests as they demonstrate content comprehension.  

    Needed Resources/Materials:

    • Wire cutters
    • Christmas tree light strand cut to make individual lights with two strands of 3+ inches of wire attached (strip ends)
    • Electrical tape
    • Brass brads
    • Electrical wire 
    • Small paperclips
    • 9 V batteries
    • Small cardboard boxes with lids for teacher-prepared mystery boxes (1 per 2 students)
    • Small cardboard boxes with lids for student-created mystery boxes (1 per 2 students)
    • Heavy duty aluminum foil
    • File folders
    • Ruler
    • Alligator clips with leads (optional)

    Sources:

    Teacher Notes: Students should have already been exposed to the necessary parts to construct a circuit, as well as the differences between series and parallel circuits.  Students should also have experience diagramming a circuit.  Prior to Day One, the teacher should construct the Mystery Boxes used in the “Engage” activity.  To do this, 

    1. Stick 10 brass brads through the box lids in a two row pattern (5 in one row, 5 in the other row.)
    2. Number each brad on the lid, starting with brad #1 and ending with brad #10.
    3. Turn the lid over to view its back and connect the wire to two different brads’ tabs. Make sure there is good contact between the wire and the selected brad tabs. Wrap the wire around the tabs, and then bend the tabs back firmly to the cardboard lid. You may want to place a small piece of electrical tape over this connection to hold it firmly in place.  Alligator clips with leads can be used instead for ease of construction, but are more expensive and are often excessively long for this activity.
    4. Continue with the other four connections, making sure to vary the pattern to make it more interesting and difficult.  Make a “key” card that shows a diagram of the five connections.  Remember to label the key card and the box so that they match.
    5. Close the box lids and use masking tape or a rubber band to ensure that students do not “cheat” later.

    Stage 1: Engage

    DAY ONE:
    Based on their understanding from an earlier lesson, ask students to review the parts of a complete circuit and discuss the differences between series and parallel circuits.  Then, ask students to construct a simple series circuit using the materials provided:  a 9V battery, a light bulb, and two pieces of wire.  Once the students have accurately constructed a working series circuit (the bulb lights up), have students break the circuit by disconnecting one end of each of the two pieces of wire.  Have students connect a paper clip to each of the loose wire ends by wrapping the wire around the paper clip’s small end.  Have students then touch the two paperclips together to demonstrate that the circuit can still be closed (the bulb lights up).  Explain to students that they have now made a circuit tester—a tool used to tell if a circuit is complete when touched to two other points.  They will be using their circuit testers to determine the mystery wiring inside a closed box similarly to how an electrician could test wiring inside a wall or device.

    Provide each pair of students with a teacher-prepared mystery box.  Referring to the prepared key card, demonstrate to students that when the paper clips touch two brads that are connected by a wire, the circuit is closed and the bulb lights up.  When the paper clips touch two brads that are not connected, the bulb remains unlit.  Challenge students to identify the pattern of wiring.  Remind them to keep track of their trials in their notebooks to avoid unnecessary repetition and to gather the data needed for their diagram solution key.  Depending on student experience in creating data tables, the teacher may need to assist in the creation of the table format.

    After students have created their diagram solution keys, hand out the prepared answer keys.  Allow students time to reflect in writing on their degree of success and discuss their approaches to the challenge. Ask students to share their varied approaches and how they impacted their level of success.  Ask students if their diagrams reflect series circuits, parallel circuits, or a combination of both.  Students should state that since there was only one possible connection between two points, only series circuits were demonstrated in this activity.

    Stage 2: Elaborate

    Challenge students to develop their own mystery boxes in their partnerships using the small cardboard boxes, brads, wires, and electrical tape.  This time, however, students must include one parallel circuit in their construction.  In addition to the completed mystery box, students must also create a diagram answer key that demonstrates the series and parallel circuits created. 

    The teacher should be prepared to ask leading questions for the creation of the parallel circuit, such as “How is a parallel circuit different than the series circuits we have been using?” “How many wires would you need to use to construct the internal box section of this parallel circuit?” “How should the wires attach to each other inside the box to make the circuit parallel?”

    Stage 3: Evaluate

    DAY TWO:
    Student partnerships should exchange their mystery boxes and attempt to solve the mystery circuitry.  Remind students that the existence of the parallel circuit will slightly complicate their solution tables and diagrams.  They should also label the series and parallel circuits on their final diagram. After students have created their diagram solution keys, hand out the student prepared answer keys.  Allow students time to reflect in writing on their degree of success and their approach to the challenge, including any changes that they made in thinking or documentation from the engagement challenge to this challenge. 

    As an individual performance assessment, students will make a self-checking study guide for a content area of their choice.  Provide students with rulers, file folders, heavy duty aluminum foil, and masking tape.  Direct students to use the ruler to divide the front of the file folder into two columns—one for questions and one for answers.  Students are to use their pencils to “punch” 10 holes for each column.  Students will use the aluminum foil as the conductive wiring from each question hole to each answer hole.  The masking tape will serve two purposes: to secure the aluminum foil to the file folder and to insulate each question-answer set from the next question-answer set.  Challenge students to include at least one parallel circuit for a question that has more than one possible answer due to synonyms, fraction vs. decimal format, characters or passages with similar elements, etc.  Students will also need to provide a diagram answer key.  

    Teacher Notes: To ensure that the file folder circuit boards are useful, co-ordinate with the other content area teachers and ask for a list of terms, math problems, or suggested topics/areas of study for students to use.  After verifying their answer keys, make them available to these other teachers for use in their station or remediation activities.  Another option is to have students create an electricity unit review circuit board.