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The Electric Cooperative Way

A lesson plan brought to you by the Kansas Electric Cooperatives


Introduce students to the basics of electricity and electrical circuitry by learning and using proper "electrical" vocabulary, defining the parts of a simple electric circuit, and constructing models of electric circuits.


In addition to basic classroom supplies, the following materials will be needed as students move to the activity portion of the lesson

*Activity 1 - D cell batteries, small light bulb, and bare copper wire.

Most of these items should be available at electronic shops or a teacher supply store.


The following is a list of electricity-related vocabulary. Introduce students to any/all words at teacher discretion.

circuit volt voltmeter current dry cell ammeter series resistance terminal parallel conductor ampere

ohm watt fuse

electrons positive & negative charge energy

generator convert battery

Warm-Up/Brainstorming Activity:

Have the students free-write a quick (2-3 minute) list of ways how their everyday lives would be affected if there were no electricity. Have students share their thoughts as time allows.

Teacher-Prompted Discussion/Instructional Period:

  • Move from the brainstorming activity to a review and discussion of appropriate vocabulary words.
  • Explain that since students now have a working knowledge of how important electricity is to daily activities and an understanding of electrical terms, they will be now be applying that knowledge and understanding to the creation of a simple electrical circuit.
  • Hold up the various materials for Activity 1 and have students generate a discussion as to what the various materials might be used for in an electrical circuit.
  • Make sure the following ideas are discussed before moving on:
    1. The battery is the source of electric energy.
    2. The wire provides the unbroken pathway (circuit) for the electrons (energy) from the battery to travel down.
    3. The electrons in the copper wire conduct the electricity down the length of the wire.
    4. By placing the bulb in the path of the electron flow, this energy is converted into light energy.
  • Have students begin predicting various ways these materials could be arranged to form a simple electrical circuit and list these predictions on the board.
  • Talk about the principle of electric circuits and decide if the various predictions meet the criteria of creating a circuit.
  • Divide students into pairs and give each pair the materials needed to create a circuit.
  • Using a trial and error approach have students attempt to produce an electrical circuit.
  • Each attempted circuit needs to be recorded as a drawing by each student.
  • Continue the activity for 15-20 minutes or until students can complete the simple circuit mistake-free.
  • NOTE: Early Finishers - Early finishers may create a more advanced simple circuit with the addition of more light bulbs, etc.

Review What Was Learned:

  • After the activity continue with a whole class discussion of the parts of a circuit and the criteria necessary to create a circuit.
  • Have student volunteers record on the chalkboard various arrangements of circuits that made the bulb light.
  • Conclude the class discussion and activity session by having students trace with their finger the path of electricity in their circuits and answer the following questions:
    1. What are the three parts of a circuit? ANSWER: A source of electricity (battery), a light source (bulb), and a conductor (wire).
    2. What path did the electricity travel to make the bulb light? ANSWER: It must make a complete circle from the energy source (battery) to the bulb and back to the energy source.
    3. What happens if the path that the energy travels is broken? ANSWER: The bulb won't light.

Student Application of Activity and Discussion/ Assessment:

  • Have students draw a diagram of a working simple circuit, labeling all parts and listing each part's function correctly.
  • Students can successfully determine the problem when looking at their drawings of failed circuits completed during the activity portion of the lesson.


  • Extend the activity by including the discussion the completion of switches in the electric circuit models.

Additional Option:

  • Broaden the activity to include Language Arts by creating a classroom bulletin board based on the original brainstorming activity. Have students create a story or write a poem about what a day in their life would be like without electricity. Title the board "Watts Electricity Got To Do With It?"

Sources for More Information:

  • A limited number of "Get Charged!" Teacher kits are available at no charge for teachers participating in the Electric Safety Demonstration, part of the Kansas Largest Classroom program at the 2008 Kansas State Fair. The kit was created through a partnership of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives and Discovery Channel School, and is geared for grades 5-9. To request the kit, contact Shana Holsteen, KEC, at (785) 478-4554.
  • Contact your local electric cooperative. Many of the Kansas electric cooperatives have table-top safety demonstrations that can be presented in the classroom. Others offer tours of local offices and/or power plants. To find a cooperative near you, go to and look under links. Or call (785) 478-4554.
  • For electrical safety information, visit
  • Touchstone Energy is a national alliance of locally-owned electric cooperatives that do business with integrity, accountability, innovation, and commitment to community. For more information about Touchstone Energy, visit
  • Electric co-ops operate according to a set of seven cooperative principles, making co-ops a unique form of business that serves the consumers who own them. Learn more about electric cooperatives at

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