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Science - Shine with electricity

What's it about?

At an international school in Scandinavia, I was horrified to find the "lab" had no lamps, no leads, no power packs, no ammeters, no switches and I was about to embark on a lesson on electricity, writes Simon Porter. Instead, I was forced to use role-play to explain how electricity works - and it was surprisingly effective.

Create a spark

Pupil confusion over words such as "charge", "current" and even "electricity" is common. But by simply talking about the movement of electrons, it is much easier for pupils to visualise a flow of particles carrying energy than it is for them to comprehend vague expressions like "flow of charge".

What to do next

Simply cut out lots of 1x5cm pieces of paper and arrange pupils around the room in a large circle. The teacher is on one side, with all the pieces of paper, and a lit Bunsen is on the other, with plenty of mats surrounding it. The pupils walk slowly round the room, collecting a piece of paper from the teacher, setting light to the paper at the Bunsen, and placing the flaming paper on the mats. They then return to the teacher to get more paper.

Short circuits

Ask them in groups to identify the elements in the circuit (perhaps by sketching). The teacher is the cell (use correct terminology here), they are electrons, the Bunsen is a lamp and the paper is energy. Then use a technique called "draw the sentence" to assess their understanding.

Anything else?

Check out Simon Porter's resource on using role-play to explain the flow of electricity.

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