Electrical Circuit
Electricity and Magnetism

Choosing materials for making loops?

Classroom Activity for 5-11 Supporting Physics Teaching

What the Activity is for

Finding materials which conduct more or less well.

Here the aim is to introduce the idea that materials are better or worse for making electrical loops, and that we might usefully remember which are which by labelling these materials. those which are good for making loops we might call conductors and those which are not so good we might call insulators.

What to Prepare

  • A set of simple test circuits containing a bulb and a battery, as well as the terminals in which to place the test item
  • A collection of suitable test materials

What Happens During this Activity

Introduce the activity as a way of deciding which materials might be good for building electrical loops. If the bulb comes on then an material might well be put in the more suitable collection, otherwise the material should be placed in the less suitable collection.

Some discussion about the kinds of materials you have in each block is likely to reveal that many of those label conductors are metals: take care though – perhaps not all.

Teacher Tip: Try to avoid the suggestion that the distinction between in insulators and conductors is absolute.

2023 IOP Awards

Teachers of Physics Awards

Recognising and celebrating outstanding contributions to the field of physics education.

Learn more