Our adventures with building a parallel circuit continues! After many investigations into creating circuits and experimenting with variables like different LED colors and different circuit components, it was time to dive much deeper into circuit types.

We’d built simple circuits before, and even found our way with series circuits – eventually, but the parallel circuit was my students go-to connection type. For this particular round of building however, I was going to issue some challenges to them regarding HOW they would build their parallel connections.

I provided the class with circuit diagrams as building challenges for them to take on. We started with simple circuits as a familiar warm up, but then got into parallel circuits and the various ways that the connections could be made. One diagram I had showed all of the connections being made at the battery terminals. Another had the chain-like look when you hook up LEDs from the anodes and cathodes. Lastly though, was a strange drawing that showed a separate point of connection for the positive and negative leads.  It was a bus connection. And once the students figured out how another piece of metal, like a paperclip could act as a busbar, they were all over the idea of hooking up tons of LEDs!

It was in this enthusiasm that I interrupted their requests for more LEDs, and brought out a string of Christmas lights. A short discussion was held in which they told me how the lights wouldn’t all go out at the same time, and how you could keep plugging in more to the end to make a really long string of lights.

We talked about what kind(s) of circuits must be used in a string of lights, and listened to their reasons why they thought so. Then we plugged it in.

Not all the lights worked, but it seems like they were actually excited about that fact. They were wondering why it wasn’t working, and where the opening was in the circuit was. Plenty of conjectures and immediate inspections took place, but we didn’t find any really good clues… I did however, have a perfect tee-up for my next lesson though!


Your turn. Any thoughts to share?