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Teaching About Electricity and Circuits With Interactive Notebook Ideas 4-PS3-2.

Teaching Circuit Electricity for Fourth Grade

Start with Phenomena. The teacher turns out the lights and asks students what happened (The lights went out). Why? (You turned off the switch). What happened when I turned off the switch? (Turned off the electricity). What is electricity? (a form of energy that can power things. We use electricity for light). Today we are going to be talking about electricity and how it works, how it turns on and off, and how it moves from one thing to another.electrical circuit worksheet

conductors and insulators

In this blog post, I plan to take you through a hands-on science lesson and show how I incorporate the interactive notebook.   I have chosen the topic of electrical circuits with conductors and insulators.  It is aligned with NGSS in the following way.

Science and Engineering Practices  

Asking Questions (for science) and Defining Problems (for engineering)
Developing and Using Models
Planning and Carrying Out Investigations
Analyzing and Interpreting Data
Constructing Explanations (for science) and Designing Solutions (for engineering)
Engaging in Argument from Evidence
Obtaining, Evaluating, and Communicating Information

Crosscutting Concepts

Energy and matter 

Disciplinary Core Ideas

PS3 Energy

NGSS 4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and

electric currents.

NGSS 4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another

NGSS 3-5-ETS1-3. Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify

aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.

Also aligned with Utah SEEd

Utah SEEd 4.2.3

Plan and carry out an investigation to gather evidence from observations that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electrical currents. Examples could include sound causing objects to vibrate and electric currents being used to produce moon or light.

Utah SEEd 4.2.4

Apply scientific ideas to design a solution that converts energy from one form to another. Define the problem, identify criteria and constraints, develop a prototype for iterative testing, analyze data from testing, and propose modifications for optimizing the solution.

Let’s assume the students have already learned to make a simple circuit.  In this activity, they will be testing various objects to discover if the are conductors or insulators. 

Give students the materials they will need to complete a circuit.   They will need a D cell battery with a large rubber band or electrical tape to hold the wires in place, three electrical wires, a light bulb (light bulb holder if desired) and items to test.   Items to test can be household objects such as a penny, a paper clip, a toothpick, a plastic tie, a balloon, a slice of potato, paper, a piece of foil, etc. 

Making Predictions: Have the students predict and record in their notebook which items will allow electricity to pass through and which will block the electricity.  Testing Items and Recording Data: After the students have made the predictions they will test the materials and record their findings on a T-chart, which will be placed in their notebook. 
Discussion: When the students have finished testing materials, the teacher will lead them in a discussion.  What were your findings? What similarities and differences did you find between materials?  Did you notice any patterns? What would you call an object or substance that allows electricity to pass through it?  What would you call an object or substance that stops the electricity from passing through?  Can you think of any conductors or insulators in our room? 
Students Record Conclusions: In their notebooks, students will add conclusions and ideas.  Here are a few examples: 
interactive notebook circuit electricity

interactive notebook circuit electricity

interactive notebook circuit electricity
Here is another activity for teaching circuit electricity.  Use copper tape to make electrical switches.  See the post here. Copper Tape Electrical Circuits

copper tape simple circuit with switch

So, as you can see, the students used the interactive notebook to record their predictions, write definitions based on their exploration, record ideas, and explain concepts.  To challenge students I would ask them to create a switch using the same materials.  For more information on electrical circuits and interactive notebooks, see my blog post on Squishy Circuits Squishy Circuits Lesson and 

You can have this lesson and an entire unit on circuit electricity from my store circuit Electricity STEM Unit
Electrical Circuit Unit

Circuit Electricity STEM Unit with Interactive Notebook Inserts NGSS 4-PS3-2

LED Light STEM Lesson  
This terrific lesson comes with a response sheet and inserts for interactive notebooks.  Great for all grade levels.  Only $1.20

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