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Bright Sparks: Practicals

Six groups of practical activities produced by the Institute of Physics (IOP), for students to explore key concepts of electricity and magnetism.

Accompanied by the Teachers' and technicians' guide for both the practicals and activity sheets. The subjects covered include:- Fuses fantastic, Electric shoes, Shaking electricity, Electricity and heat, Make a motor, Magnetism and electricity

In addition to the guidance included for specific activities, please refer to the generic health and safety information before commencing any practical activity.

Fuses fantastic
This pair of activities provide useful practice at using power = voltage x current in a real context. Heating wires until they melt never fails to capture the interest of students and, if introduced carefully, the smart properties of memory metal are quite memorable.

Electric shoes
This activity is designed to help higher tier students consolidate their understanding of:
• calculations of electrical power, work and efficiency
• the use of magnetism to generate electricity
• electron flow in electric circuits.
It also introduces them to piezoelectric and semiconductor materials, in the context of a relevant real-life situation. The fourth task, on rectifiers, provides extension work for the faster working students.

Shaking electricity
This device moves a magnet through a coil to generate enough electrical potential difference to light up an LED or light bulb. It therefore provides a simple demonstration to introduce students at any level to principles associated with generating electricity, including the concepts of alternating and direct current.

Electricity and heat
This work investigates the heating effect of an electrical current. It can be used to consolidate knowledge and understanding of concepts regarding energy transformation and transfer by providing a practical demonstration of convection currents.

Make a motor
This exercise can be used to introduce or consolidate concepts of energy transformation and those associated with electrical circuits including use of meters to measure current and voltage and the calculation of power. An extension exercise offers the opportunity to consider how electric motors work in simple or more advanced terms.

Magnetism and electricity
These investigations will help students to find out and understand more about the connection between magnetism and electricity.They cover:
• how magnetic fields exert a force on electric currents
• the left-hand rule for the electromagnetic motor effect
• how loudspeakers work.

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Please be aware that resources have been published on the website in the form that they were originally supplied. This means that procedures reflect general practice and standards applicable at the time resources were produced and cannot be assumed to be acceptable today. Website users are fully responsible for ensuring that any activity, including practical work, which they carry out is in accordance with current regulations related to health and safety and that an appropriate risk assessment has been carried out.

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