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Energizing Everything Unit Share
Mystery 6 of 8
What if there were no electricity?
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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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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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DISCUSS:

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

Hint...

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You've completed the Exploration & Activity!

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

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Extensions

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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Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Energy, Motion, & Electricity
Focus Electrical Energy
Print Prep
Activity Prep

In this Mystery, students are introduced to electricity as a form of energy. In the activity, Build a Flashlight, students investigate how electrical energy requires a circuit and 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.

Preview activity

Number of students:
Scissors
30 pairs
Aluminum Foil
10 feet
File Folder Labels (Stickers)
Masking tape will also work. We prefer stickers for ease of distribution in a classroom.
Details
120 labels
Index Cards (3x5)
30 cards
Batteries (3V 2032 button)
Each student needs one battery. We suggest purchasing a few more in case some don't work.
Details
30 batteries
LEDs
Each student needs at least one LED, but it's ideal to have more for additional experimentation. We recommend getting an assortment of colored LEDs.
Details
90 LEDs
Flashlight Maker printout Print 30 copies
Prep Instructions

We recommend that students work in pairs. Homeschool students can work on their own.

Prepare Aluminum Foil

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

Teacher Note

If you purchase the batteries in advance, please read this document for how to safely store them.

Overview
Grade 4th
Topic Energy, Motion, & Electricity
Focus Electrical Energy
Extensions