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Hey! Who Turned Out the Lights? Electricity in Series and Parallel Circuits - Discovering the connection between toys, holiday lights, and electricity

Students grasp science concepts best when they are able to interact with materials and apply what they are learning to real-life situations. When children are able to guide their own learning through exploration and discovery, they can make meaningful connections to the content. This unit is intended to support and enhance the School District of Philadelphia’s fourth grade science curriculum through engaging, hands-on, and cooperative lessons. Throughout the unit, students will ask and answer questions regarding electricity such as: What is a complete circuit? What is the difference between series and parallel circuits? What are conductors and insulators? How is resistance affected in a circuit when different components are inserted?

This unit consists of 6 lessons that bring electricity concepts to students through common items like toys from home, play dough recipes, holiday lights, and various school supplies. The unit begins by the students observing a toy that is familiar to them and making conclusions about how the toy works using electricity. The following lessons use other familiar items that help students understand complicated concepts of electricity such as series and parallel circuits, resistance, conductors, and insulators. The unit concludes with the students using what they learned about electricity to build their own toy that will produce a specific form of energy. Through this unit, I hope to enable students to apply the experiences they have had with electricity to their future science endeavors as well as their every day encounters.

Sharon Mastrobuoni

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