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20 October 2014
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Circuits and conductors - lesson plan

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A batteryTo understand the conductivity of different materials and the effect of changing the power source

National Curriculum

Sc3, 1c; Sc4, 1b.


You will need Adobe Acrobat reader to access the PDF files. BBC Webwise has a complete guide to downloading and installing Adobe Acrobat reader.

Teaching activities


  1. Write the words 'battery' and 'mains' on large pieces of sugar paper and put them in different parts of the classroom.
  2. Ask one child from each table to run to the papers and write on them an appliance or device that uses either battery or mains. Create a competition atmosphere, timed to music.
  3. Watch Learning Zone Broadband Class Clips - What materials conduct electricity?. What is the key scientific vocabulary used?
  4. Watch the clip again but this time ask the children to list three objects that are insulators.
  5. Ask the children to join hands in a circle and role play the flow of electricity through their hands.
  6. Demonstrate what happens when there is a break in the circuit. (Children break hands and the electricity stops flowing).


  1. Explain to the children that they are going to carry out an online experiment to find out which materials conduct electricity and which materials do not.
  2. Bring up the Bitesize circuits and conductors activity on the interactive whiteboard.
  3. Talk through the circuit that is displayed and explain why the bulb is not currently alight (there are gaps in the circuit)
  4. Show the children how to fill in the gaps in the circuit with objects from the menu.
  5. Read aloud the tasks on the screen and ask the children how they would go about each one.
  6. Once the children understand the activity, divide the class into groups, with a computer for each group.
  7. Ask each group to work through the tasks and keep a record of 1) which objects complete the circuit, lighting the bulb, and which do not, and 2) the number of batteries and bulbs that make the bulb brightest or dimmest.
  8. Reinforce the learning by asking the children to test their findings on objects around the classroom using electrical equipment.


  1. Ask the children which objects completed the circuit and which objects did not.
  2. Ask the higher ability group what happened when the number of batteries in the circuit was increased and what happened when the number of bulbs was increased.
  3. Ask the children to race against each other, in tables, to list as many conductors as possible in one minute.


  1. Ask the children to complete the Circuits and conductors worksheet (PDF 1.7MB) and to look carefully at each circuit and write whether the bulb would be off, on dimly or on brightly.
  2. Alternatively, ask the children to complete the Bitesize circuits and conductors quiz.


Ask the children to complete the Lemon battery experiment on Pod's Mission - electricity.

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