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?

Survivors

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

Egg BB

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

Comet Crisp

Artist: Jeff Kulak

Jeff is a senior graphic designer at Science World. His illustration work has been published in the Walrus, The National Post, Reader’s Digest and Chickadee Magazine. He loves to make music, ride bikes, and spend time in the forest.

T-Rex and Baby

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

Buddy the T-Rex

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

Geodessy

Artist: Michelle Yong

Michelle is a designer with a focus on creating joyful digital experiences! She enjoys exploring the potential forms that an idea can express itself in and helping then take shape.

Science Buddies

Artist: Ty Dale

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.

Western Dinosaur

Artist: Ty Dale

From Canada, Ty was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1993. From his chaotic workspace he draws in several different illustrative styles with thick outlines, bold colours and quirky-child like drawings. Ty distils the world around him into its basic geometry, prompting us to look at the mundane in a different way.