Electrical energy - part 1

Starting from children’s ideas

It is important to recognise that children are likely to have prior ideas about electricity, which can be explored and challenged by posing questions such as:

What sort of things use electricity?

Children make two lists or two collections of things that run on mains electricity and those that are battery powered. Some objects, such as radios, computers and hand drills, may come under both headings.

How does electricity get to where it is needed?

Children can draw pictures showing the electrical supply to their house or school. Older children can make annotated drawings of how electricity gets to a bulb from a battery or from the mains supply to an electrical appliance.

It is likely that children will not be aware that a full circuit is needed for electricity to flow. Their own experience will suggest that only one wire or cable is required: for example, the children will observe that only one wire is leading to every electrical device in the house. It will be important that children have plenty of opportunities to establish the idea of a full circuit.