While there are lots of ways to neaten up a pile of test leads, I’ve found one that helps reinforce two big concepts for students:
- That color coding is an excellent way of planned and purposeful organization that helps with trouble-shooting installations.
- That electrical circuits have an electrical polarity that is important to keep track of.
Bundling your test leads because of these two ideas can make those ideas more apparent.
How a pile of test leads usually looks after a busy day of tinkering and prototyping…
A bundle containing one of every color doesn’t obviously communicate an understanding of polarity. Students may have just picked different colors for positive and negative because they don’t have any other choice.
Doesn’t help students demonstrate color coding or polarity, unless they take two bundles… but then you have to manage an extremely oversized bundle of wires that isn’t easily shared with others, and quickly turns into the “loose pile” picture.
Can have the same issues as the large bundles of single colors, but it’s getting better. If students pick two different color bundles, you can assess their reasoning with a quick question: “Hey, why’d ya take two different colors of test leads?” It still tends to concentrate a large number of wires with a single student as they don’t typically need a lot of wires for their prototyping, meaning you can get lots of small piles of loose wires (instead of a big pile).
Six wires, three of each color, as a bundle has worked really well for my students. I can quickly look at their builds and ask questions of those that used the same color for the positive and negative poles to check for understanding, or listen to them do their troubleshooting out loud to see if they are using a color coding scheme to make their analysis easier.
Images in this post, but not shown in the Image Credits section, are my own.