Conductivity

Materials:

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Three (3) Wires
  • Batteries Block
  • Lightbulb Block

Take a walk around your home, classroom or whatever space where you are. Gather a small assortment of objects made from various types of materials. Paperclip, spoon, pipe cleaner, rubber band, wire, coin, cardboard, fabric, aluminum foil, leather, wood, bolt, leaf, rock are all good examples. Place the objects in a pile, and think about the material/s of of each object. Now, select one object. Describe- out loud, in writing, or with drawings- how it feels and looks. Wonder about it.

Name its material: Is it wood, plastic, metal, glass, ceramic, or cloth? Is it a combination of materials? Circuit Blocks components are made of a wooden block with metal, plastic, and glass components attached.

Make a circuit using the Batteries Block, Lightbulb Block and 3 wires all in one pathway- you will need to clip two wires together. Notice what happens.

Wire-to-wire.jpg

Unclip the two wires that are clipped together, and touch the two clips to two ends of one of your gathered objects- this is a way to test the material of the object. Is electricity able to flow from the batteries, through your material, through the light, and back to the batteries? Do this with each of your materials. Test if electricity flows through the material/s of the object to power your light. You will be able to clip some materials into your circuit, others you will need to just touch (or probe) with the alligator clips.

Keep track of which material/s on your objects closed the gap and allowed electricity to flow through the circuit, and which material/s on your objects didn't allow electricity to travel.

Materials that electricity flows through are conductive.
Materials that electricity does not flow through are non-conductive and are called insulators.
Conductive materials make the pathway through which electricity travels. 
Electricity cannot flow through insulating materials, such as the blue plastic coating on your wires.

Sort your materials into groups: one group of conductive materials, and one group of non-conductive (insulating) materials.
Can you find an object which is both conductive and non-conductive, depending on how you connect it into your circuit?

Can you predict whether a material on an object you haven't tested yet will be conductive or not?