If you are teaching about electricity and you don’t have any lesson plans for today or you have to be absent sometime soon and don’t have plans for the sub, this post is for you!
We study electricity using CASTLE, a program for teaching conceptually about electric circuits. It is well supported by research that students who experience this program are more likely to give up commonly held misconceptions about circuits. My students are able to learn the “formulas” in a very short time after our work with CASTLE. I am, as you know, a big fan.
The concept of resistance is clearly demonstrated in CASTLE using carbon resistors and bulbs with different amounts of resistance. But I like to add this lab to our post-CASTLE unit because resistance is so interesting and measurable.
The format of the lab is also one I like to use. If every student is doing the same thing, you need a complete “class set” of materials. But if you set the lab up in stations, the students move around and you can take advantage of objects that you may only have one of. This lab started out with just four stations and I used it to illustrate the factors that affect the resistance of a wire (length, diameter, temperature, and material).
But it was easy to add stations as I learned something interesting or acquired a unique piece of material. When the electrician came to my room to fix the thermostat, he replaced the thermistor just in case it was bad.
It was not defective, so now I have the exact device that measures the temperature of my classroom for the students to play with in lab. I went to the hardware store and picked up interesting switches and dimmers that rely on resistance and made them into stations.
So here is what you will find in the folder if you follow the link:
1. A copy of the student lab paper.
2. A copy of the instruction sheet that I use at each station (and a necessary table for station 9)
3. A short video of each station that can be used with the student material to collect data.
I like having the videos, because then if a student misses lab, they can see the videos and still collect data from them and answer the questions. You can use the videos in that way for your whole class, or better yet, use them as a guide to set up the actual lab in class.
Click on the links below:
Station 1 – Length of the Wire Instructions Video
Station 2 – Diameter of the Wire Instructions Video
Station 3 – Type of Material Instructions Video
Station 4 – Temperature Instructions Video
Station 5 – Color Code Instructions Video
Station 6 – Variable Resistors Instructions Video
Station 7 – Photocells Instructions Video
Station 8 – Thermistors Instructions Video
Station 9 – Resistivity Instructions Table Video
I would really love to hear from anyone who uses the material. Let me know if it is useful, how you use it, how I could be more helpful.