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Learn About Conductors and Insulators
Objective: List electrical conductors and insulators.
This lesson builds on the concepts in MatchCard 8 - Electrical Circuits
Conductor - Material that readily conducts electrons though them allowing an electrical current to pass through.
Insulator - Material that resists the flow of electrons and prevents electrical currents.
Print the Conductors and Insulators MatchCard
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This is MatchCard #9 of the Light and Energy Unit Study. Find more information on MatchCard Science below.
Materials to Test
Gather a variety of materials to test for conductivity.
- A variety of metal objects
- different coins
- metal spoons/forks
- plastic items
- plastic spoon
- small plastic toy
Modify the Electrical Circuit Experiment
We will modify the electrical circuit experiment
done in MatchCard 8 which uses aluminum foil, a C battery, and a flashlight bulb.
- Cut three pieces of aluminum foil approximately 12 inches long and 1/2 inch thick. Fold the strips the long ways so they are 1/4 inch thick.
- Set a battery on one end of one of the first foil strips.
- Touch the other end of the strip to one of the objects you are testing for conductivity
- Touch the second foil strip to the other end of the object being tested.
- Then touch the other end of that second strip to the metal base of a flashlight bulb.
- Now touch one end of the third strip to the flashlight bulb as well.
- Finally touch the opposite end of the third strip to the positive end of the battery. The bulb will light up if the object tested is a conductor.
Using Wires and Alligator Clips
Here is an easier way to do the same experiment. However, this will require special equipment. You can buy the wires and alligator clips at an electronics store inexpensively. Here is what you will need:
- a 9 volt battery
- 6 alligator clips
- 3 pieces of electrical wire, each about 12 inches long
It will be easiest if you can purchase the alligator clips in pairs with the wire already attached. Each two alligator clips will be connected to the opposite end of a piece of wire.
The experiment is the same as that above, only you will connect the alligator clips to the items instead of the aluminum foil. Follow the same directions above.
Think About This
Conductors not only conduct electricity, they also conduct heat. Think of what people wear in the winter to insulate themselves from the cold. What do we use to insulate our houses?
What would happen if you had a house made out of metal? (Think of heat from the sun and electricity from lightening.)