Build a Flashlight

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SWBAT use their knowledge of circuits to design and construct a working flashlight.

Big Idea

The engineering design process enables us to meet human needs. A flashlight contains a working circuit and switch.

Warm Up

10 minutes

To begin the lesson, I show the students a flashlight and ask them to describe the way that the flashlight works and how it is useful to people. I list the students ideas on the board. It is my goal to have students identify the key features of a flashlight (including a switch, bulb, and power source). 

I inform the students that their engineering challenge for the day is to create a model flashlight using their switch and lab materials. 

Independent Practice

20 minutes

Before allowing students to design and build their model flashlight, I review the flashlight lab record sheet with the whole class. I discuss the materials that the students will be able to use in their design. I also talk with them about the importance of planning a design, testing it, and making modifications in an orderly fashion. I encourage students to record their plans on their lab worksheet.

I then provide students with time to create a model flashlight. Students need to connect a complete circuit using their switch to create the flashlight. I purposefully do not provide a great deal of directions so that students can create a model design that reflects their knowledge and skill level. Many students will use a simple circuit in their model flashlight. I encourage those students to compare their model with that of a peer who used a series or parallel circuit. This often leads to students revising their models to make the bulb brighter.

A video of a student creating their model can be found here. Photos of the students' completed model flashlights can be found here and here.


10 minutes

Because this lesson is the final lesson of the unit, I close the lesson by having students review the chart that they created in the first lesson of the unit. I ask students to review the items that they listed both alone and with their partners. I ask them to highlight any facts that they proved through their lab work. I also ask students to cross out any information that they disproved through their lab work and research. I then encourage students to add their new knowledge to the chart with a different colored pen. This activity provides each student with the opportunity to clarify and revise their thinking about the topic of electricity.