Electrify Learning: Insulator? Or Conductor?
Use this experiment to learn about electrical circuits.
In Georgia, all 5th grade students learn how to build an electrical circuit and investigate if objects are conductors that allow electricity to flow through, or if they are insulators that stop the flow of energy.
Teachers know this is Content Standard S5P3, or Science Grade 5 Physical Science Standard #3. (Don’t worry, there won’t be a test on that.)
Try this in your classroom at school, or at home just for fun.
In order for electricity to travel where we want it to go, there must be a complete circuit connecting the starting point (power plant) to what we want to power (our homes and businesses) and then back to the original source (power plant). In the industry, power lines create the circuit. In this experiment, we use a battery as the original power source and connect a light bulb to the circuit to demonstrate the flow of electricity.
- Three, 6-inch pieces of insulated solid-strand, 22-guage copper wire with 1 inch of insulation stripped on each end
- Masking tape
- D-cell battery
- 1.2-volt light bulb with matching base (order these online at Amazon or find them at Home Depot)
- Banana, rubber band, toothpick, paper clips, plastic fork, pickle, lemon, potato
Directions and Observations
- Use masking tape to connect one end owo pieces of wire to the light bulb base.
- Tape the other ends of the wire to each end of the battery.
- Disconnect one wire from the bulb.
- Add the third wire to the light bulb base. Now you have two wire ends where you can test conductors and insulators.
- Connect the two free ends of wire to your test objects.
Which items do you suspect will be insulators (no light) or conductors (light)? Add a banana between the two sections of 4-inch wire with the other ends connecting to the battery and light bulb base.
This experiment is one of many educational resources available for teachers, parents and students on Jackson EMC’s kids pages, www.jacksonemc.com/kids.