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Circuit Tag

In this activity, students use their bodies to simulate electron flow through a circuit and discover what happens when a "wire" is disconnected in this energetic game.

Electrical energy is the energy that comes from moving electrons. In order for an electric motor to work, the electrons have to move! A circuit is the path that electricity follows. For electrons to travel (creating an electric current), a circuit must be closed. This means that there can't be any gaps or loose connections.

Electrons can only travel through materials called conductors, such as copper wires. Insulators are materials that do not let electrons flow freely, such as wood or plastic.

Objectives

  • Describe electron movement along a wire.

Materials

  • Per Class:
    Gymnasium with painted lines
    Energetic students

Key Questions

  • Notice that there’s a positive and a negative end on a battery. In what direction do electrons move?
  • How does the direction of electron movement affect the flow when the wire was “cut”?

What To Do

  1. Select 1 or 2 people to be “it”. All other students are “electrons”.
  2. Electrons are only able to travel through wires. In this game, the electrons (or students) and players who are “it” can only run on the lines in the gymnasium. They can not hop from line to line, but can switch lines when two lines intersect.
  3. When a player is tagged, they sit down on the line on which they were standing when the tag occurred. This wire is now “cut”, and no other players are allowed to pass players who are sitting. There is a chance that this will result in “trapped electrons”, further emphasizing the need for electrons to flow in circuit.
  4. Once the students observe the inhibiting effects of the disconnected wires (the tagged and sitting students) give the “live electron” students a chance to keep the game going by tagging the sitting students and returning them to the game and thus reactivating the wire. Alternatively, designate one student to be the “electrician” who can re-connect wires by tagging sitting students and freeing them to re-join the game.

Extensions

  • How could you incorporate conductors and insulators into the rules of the game?