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Energizing Everything    Mystery 6

Mystery 6 image

In this Mystery, students are introduced to electricity as a form of energy that has multiple uses. In the activity, students investigate how electrical energy travels and design flashlights that can turn on and off.

What if there were no electricity?

Beginning Exploration (1 of 10)
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Beginning Exploration (2 of 10)

DISCUSS (1 of 2):

Imagine power is out for a day. How would that affect your life? (For example: What things stop working? What things do you lose the ability to do?)

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Beginning Exploration (3 of 10)

DISCUSS (2 of 2):

Now imagine power is out for a week (or even a year). What are some ways this might affect your life?

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Beginning Exploration (4 of 10)
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Beginning Exploration (5 of 10)

DISCUSS:

Besides making things move, what else can electrical energy do? (Think about examples from the story.)

Hint...

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Beginning Exploration (6 of 10)
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Beginning Activity Prep
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Activity Prep

In this activity, students will make their own mini flashlights from LEDs, button batteries, and strips of aluminum foil. Along the way, they’ll learn about the anatomy of a battery, begin to see how circuits work, and discover how handy an on-off switch can be.

Step 1: Gather and order supplies

Each student will need:

  • At least one LED (It’s ideal to have a few per student for additional projects and experimentation. We recommend getting an inexpensive assortment of colored LEDs, like this one from Amazon.)
  • At least one 3V 2032 button battery (These are inexpensive if you order in bulk from Amazon.)
  • One 3 x 5 card
  • At least four strips of masking tape or stickers like these (We like stickers for ease of distribution.)
  • Scissors
  • A “Flashlight Maker” worksheet

Plus, you’ll need:

  • A roll of aluminum foil

Step 2: Prepare supplies

For each student, tear off a strip of aluminum foil that’s about 4 inches wide and as long as the roll is (usually about 12 inches).

Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Activity: Build a Flashlight
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Beginning Exploration (7 of 10)
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Beginning Complete!

You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

If you have more time, view the assessment, reading and extension activity in the optional extras.

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Optional Extras

Below are ideas for extending this topic beyond the activity and exploration you just completed.
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Watch and Discuss

Historical footage from the 1930s shows how life changed when electricity made its way to rural America. Watch the video (7:32) and talk about the differences between then and now:

  • How did electricity change life in the home? On the farm?
  • How did electricity change the lives of men, women, and children?
  • Could you live without electricity in your house today?
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Reading

Electrical lights have transformed our world, making it possible to light up the night. But sometimes there can be too much light!

This article talks about light pollution, a problem that’s making it harder and harder for us to see—and study—the night sky.

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Videos

  • How does a flashlight work? This video shows how electricity makes its way from a battery to a bulb—circuits, switches, and all. (4:41)
  • Energy journalist Lee Patrick Sullivan is the animated host of this video, which traces electrical power from its source to its use. (5:18)
  • Just for the fun of it! This quirky, thought-provoking power-company ad imagines life without electricity. (1:09)
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Activity: Make a Lemon Battery

All you need are a few lemons, some pennies or copper wire, paper towels, and a nail.

This downloadable PDF from The Tech Museum of Innovation includes information on standards, vocabulary words, and ideas for extended learning. (Grades 4–8)

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Challenge: Turning Your Flashlight On and Off

Your light up card works as a flashlight — it’ll let you see in the dark. But you probably want more than that in a flashlight.

Change your flashlight to make it easy to turn on and off. Watch this video for ideas if you get stuck.

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