Year 6: Electricity
This list consists of lesson plans, activities and video clips to support the teaching of electricity at Year Six. It contains tips on using the resources, suggestions for further use and background subject knowledge. Possible misconceptions are highlighted so that teachers may plan lessons to facilitate correct conceptual understanding. Designed to support the new curriculum programme of study it aims to cover many of the requirements for knowledge and understanding and working scientifically. The statutory requirements are that children are taught to:
• associate the brightness of a lamp or the volume of a buzzer with the number and voltage of cells used in the circuit
• compare and give reasons for variations in how components function, including the brightness of bulbs, the loudness of buzzers and the on/off position of switches
• use recognised symbols when representing a simple circuit in a diagram.
Visit the primary science webpage to access all lists.
Links and Resources
This resource is a series of six lesson plans including concept cartoons to assess understanding and games which incorporate key vocabulary, strengthening knowledge. In Session B children are asked to identify and name the parts of electrical circuits and represent circuit diagrams using recognised symbols. Following on from this activity groups could be given circuit diagrams and asked to sort them into those that they think: will work, won't work or are unsure about, giving reasons why. Children then create the circuits from the diagrams to test them and give reasons for their findings.
In Session D children investigate whether the thickness or length of wire changes the brightness of a bulb. Children could go on to investigate the effects of changing a different component in a circuit and observing the results. For example the number of cells in a circuit.
Matching circuit diagrams to actual components is often a source of confusion. This video demonstrates an effective way of helping children with the transition between symbolic interpretations and actual circuits. Using a matching game with circuit components and their symbols is a great way of either learning in a 'fun' way or of assessing understanding. Role-playing current flow around a circuit aids conceptual understanding before children create and draw their own circuits.
Children could then build on their work in Year 4 to construct simple series circuits and draw their representations using the recognised symbols.
This project provides a design and technology project in which children focus on electric circuits, motors and batteries to build their own mini-vacuum cleaner.
Children take a detailed look at a hairdryer identifying its different parts and their functions. Applying previous learning about circuits, they then look at motors and fans, focussing on how differences in design change the effectiveness of the fan. They then make a switch for their device. Working in groups they design and build their own vacuum cleaner, thinking about materials and component parts and how they will work to solve the initial problem.
Applying knowledge in this D&T unit is a great way of applying knowledge of circuits to a practical activity. Children are challenged to make a moving toy vehicle using a battery powered electric car which is able to move forward and reverse as well as having lights that can be switched on and off.
This activity is an extended project which could be carried out over several days. It will need advance planning and ordering in of component parts for building the cars.