Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Building and describing circuits

Classroom Activity for 11-14 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

We suggest you use very simple circuits here, to allow your class to concentrate on a restricted range of points:

  • The energy in is equal to the energy out.
  • Currents are the same through all elements.
  • Charge flows are the same in all elements.
  • Relationship between charge flow and current.

What to Prepare

  • the interactive
  • a modern browser to run the swf files

What Happens During this Activity

Unzip the software and drag it to a browser window to launch the file.

One way to use this software is to build a small series of circuits, and then use the diagrammatic descriptions of energy, current, and charge flow to label them, respecting the relative magnitudes of these different, but related quantities. You will want your pupils to be confident in applying their understanding of the restricted range of points above before they move on to applying this understanding to more complicated arrangements of cells and lamps.

Some more specific suggestions:

Set up these four simple circuits and get the pupils to describe the energy shifts using the labels provided in the interactive.

For the same circuits, add different labels for charge flow.

Again for these circuits use a mixture of current and charge flow labels to set challenges. First increase the current and then get the pupils to alter the charge flow labels to match, or change the flow labels and get the pupils to match the currents.

This activity may be best for review using whole class discussion, or small group activities.


Download the software for this activity.

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