Shoebox Circuits

Contributor
Science & Children (NSTA) Cody Sandifer
Type Category
Instructional Materials
Types
Article , Lesson/Lesson Plan , Activity
Note
This resource, vetted by NSTA curators, is provided to teachers along with suggested modifications to make it more in line with the vision of the NGSS. While not considered to be “fully aligned,” the resources and expert recommendations provide teachers with concrete examples and expert guidance using the EQuIP rubric to adapted existing resources. Read more here.

Reviews

Description

In this culuminating activity, the students will be connecting the scientific phenomena of how electric circuits work into their everyday lives.   Students will be working in pairs to design and wire a shoebox “room” that meets well-defined circuit requirements following the design process. Previously learned concepts related to conductivity, series and parallel circuits, bulb brightness, and switches, will be reinforced as the students plan and build their shoebox circuits 

Intended Audience

Educator
Educational Level
  • Grade 4
  • Grade 5
Language
English
Access Restrictions

Free access - The right to view and/or download material without financial, registration, or excessive advertising barriers.

Performance Expectations

4-PS3-4 Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.

Clarification Statement: Examples of devices could include electric circuits that convert electrical energy into motion energy of a vehicle, light, or sound; and, a passive solar heater that converts light into heat. Examples of constraints could include the materials, cost, or time to design the device.

Assessment Boundary: Devices should be limited to those that convert motion energy to electric energy or use stored energy to cause motion or produce light or sound.

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this performance expectation.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
The students will be transferring energy from the battery to produce light. To best meet this performance expectation, more discussion about the movement of this energy from the source to the bulb should be more explicit while the students are creating their blueprint diagram and installing the circuit. It is suggested that the students use the materials to revise and retest the circuit until the requirements of the design are met.

3-5-ETS1-2 Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

Clarification Statement: none

Assessment Boundary: none

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this performance expectation, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Performance Expectation
In this activity the students will be 'wiring' one room in their house with lights (though the resource also gives suggestions that the criteria could be expanded to include sound (doorbell) and/or motor (fan)). Students will generate a blueprint, then test and revise their project before installing the circuit in the box. Although the words criteria and constraints are not used in the article, it is suggested to use these words with the students when describing the requirements for the project: Circuit requirements for the shoebox project: • Both batteries should be connected together and placed in the same location. • One of the bulbs should be significantly brighter than the other two bulbs. • A switch should turn only the brighter bulb on and off. • Optional: A second switch should act as an emergency “breaker” switch that can turn all three bulbs on and off.

Science and Engineering Practices

This resource appears to be designed to build towards this science and engineering practice, though the resource developer has not explicitly stated so.

Comments about Including the Science and Engineering Practice
Students will be developing a model shoebox that depicts a room in their house that will show how electricity moves from a battery, through a wire, to the lightbulb.

Disciplinary Core Ideas

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this disciplinary core idea.

Comments about Including the Disciplinary Core Idea
Students are given circuit requirements that will show how energy moves from battery to bulb by electric current. You could also add a buzzer or motor with propeller. To best meet this performance expectation, more discussion about the movement of the energy from the source to the bulb should be more explicit while the students are creating their blueprint diagram and installing the circuit.

Crosscutting Concepts

This resource is explicitly designed to build towards this crosscutting concept.

Comments about Including the Crosscutting Concept
Following the criteria of the activity, students will observe that energy can move in various ways between objects if one of the bulbs is significantly brighter than the other two bulbs. It is suggested as students are working on their blueprints, they are answering questions to assess their understanding: How is the energy being transferred to get one bulb brighter than the other? Why is only one switch turning off the brighter bulb and not the other bulb?

Resource Quality

  • Alignment to the Dimensions of the NGSS: This activity gives the students the opportunity to figure out on their own how to build a circuit following specific criteria and constraints. The explicit use of the disciplinary core idea is well addressed in the lesson and connects with the cross cutting concept. Students have an opportunity to make sense of phenomena by using a model to show how energy is transferred and moved from place to place. This lesson connects with the students real life in that they can compare their shoebox circuit to the wiring in a room in their house. However, to make a deeper connection to the real life idea, there might be some discussion of the more complex circuits in the students’ homes and the power grid itself. A suggested link can be found under Instructional Supports.

  • Instructional Supports: A circuit blueprint worksheet is included as well as cut-outs for the students to design their circuit prior to building it. Ideas to enhance the project is also available. Although an extension activity to include an optional second switch that acts as an emergency “breaker” switch that can turn all three bulbs on and off is included, more support is needed for ELL and those that may need differentiated instruction. Instructional supports can be found at this link: http://www.nsta.org/elementaryschool/connections.aspx#0912 To connect the lesson with the student's real life, this article (along with labels and colorful pictures that could be used to differentiate the learning) may be helpful to describe how a power grid works: http://www.science.smith.edu/~jcardell/Courses/EGR220/ElecPwr_HSW.html

  • Monitoring Student Progress: At the culmination of the lesson, students will be orally presenting their project and comparing and contrasting it with the real wiring of their homes. Various prompts for a written report that includes questions is available. Prior to building the circuits, students are asked to trace out each circuit loop with their finger and explain why they put the switch (or switches) where they did. It is suggested that the teacher asks the students as they are working to explain their observations of what worked and what didn't work in their circuit blueprints. Questions such as, “What are you observing?” "Why is one bulb brighter than the other?" will be useful to measure progress as students move through the activity.

  • Quality of Technological Interactivity: This resource does not include a technologically interactive component.