Build a Switch

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Objective

SWBAT construct a switch and use their switch in a simple circuit to control the flow of electricity.

Big Idea

Switches can control the flow of electricity in a circuit.

Warm Up

10 minutes

Because I want my students to make connections to their prior knowledge, I begin this lesson by asking students to name and describe places where they have seen or used a switch to control electricity. Common answers include light switches, power buttons on televisions or video game systems, and nightlights.  I record the students' responses on a chart and display it in the front of the classroom.

I then ask students to work in their table groups to make a hypothesis about how switches control electricity. I ask each group to come to a consensus and to record their hypothesis on a sentence strip. I display the sentence strips on the board so that students can revisit their hypotheses at the conclusion of the lesson.

Guided Practice

10 minutes

I model the construction of a circuit tester and switch for the students. Students will use a circuit tester in subsequent lessons so I want to ensure that they can correctly construct a circuit tester and that they have the opportunity to ask questions about the process and product. I encourage students to take notes on the process of building the circuit tester in their lab notebooks. 

Independent Practice

20 minutes

After seeing the circuit tester and switch construction process, I provide students with the time to build their own switch and circuit tester. As they build, I ask students to record their observations on their switch lab worksheet.  After completing the switch and tester, students diagram their completed circuit.  A video of a student constructing a switch can be found here.

Once they have built their circuit tester and switch, I ask students to explore the materials and to make judgments about how electricity moves in the circuit. I want students to gain this knowledge through exploration, so I purposefully avoid telling the students any information about how the presence of a switch can impact the circuit. Instead, I ask guiding questions to lead students to the understanding that the switch controls the flow of electricity by completing or breaking the flow of electrons in the circuit.

Closing

10 minutes

I close this lesson with a formative assessment. Since the students are half-way through the electricity unit, I want to ensure that each student can diagram a circuit and describe the movement of electricity in a circuit. I use the switch exit ticket as a quick check for understanding.