Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Breaking loops: On-Off Switches

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Simple make or break switches complete or break single loops. Here children investigate the simple on-off switches, devising a number of different ways of making and breaking loops.

What to Prepare

  • A large complete electrical loop
  • A collection of pieces of conductor to make switches
  • Batteries, bulbs, wires

What Happens During this Activity

Show a large complete loop, containing a battery and a bulb, and then ask how to turn the bulb on and off. Extend the question to include turning the bulb on or off from a large number of different locations around the loop. Here you can emphasise the loop as a complete system, because what happens at one point affects the entire loop.

The children should have a go at devising their own switches, aiming both for elegant solutions and for intriguing solutions, as well as simple reliable switches. Having to hand a few large switches (ensure that these are on-off switches) of a variety of designs will encourage the children to adopt different approaches.

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