What is Wrong?: Troubleshooting Circuits

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SWBAT identify and correct errors in circuit construction.

Big Idea

Non-functioning circuits can be repaired.

Warm Up

10 minutes

To begin the lesson, I ask students to review their work on the circuit exit ticket. Because an understanding of the basic function of circuits is a key to success in this lesson, I provide students time to share their thinking about circuits with a partner. I ask each set of partners to generate a definition of the word circuit on a sentence strip. I display these sentence strips in a pocket chart in the front of the classroom so that the students can access these resources during their lesson.

Independent Practice

30 minutes

To prepare for the lab activity, I create a non-working circuit for each table group. The goal of the lesson is to have students use their understanding of circuits to correct any problems that they discover in their non-functioning circuit. When building these incomplete circuits for students, I make sure to include multiple problems in each circuit so that the student's task is challenging and complex. I base my broken circuits on common student errors. When building circuits, it is common for students to place the battery in the battery holder incorrectly, to push the wires to far into the Fahnestock clips so that the insulating material is touching the metal, or to not screw the light bulb into the bulb socket completely. Examples of non-functioning circuits with errors in battery placementbulb placement, and wire placement can be found in the attached photographs.

I ask students to collaborate with their group to identify and correct the problems with the non-functioning circuit I have provided to the group. I ask students to record their thinking on the troubleshooting circuits record sheet.

A video of student groups engaged in troubleshooting non-functioning circuits can be found here.


10 minutes

To close the lesson, I create chart on the board. I ask students to list the problems that they found with their non-functioning circuits and the steps that they took to address them. I also review the terms circuit, electron, and transformation on the electricity glossary to reinforce the concepts that the students addressed in their lab work.