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Explore science.

The Electricity and Magnetism unit.

Electricity is an amazing thing. It's all around us, from powering our houses or devices, to building up as static electricity. It's useful, powerful, and dangerous.

Magnetism is another amazing topic. We know magnets mainly from hanging things on our refrigerators. They're also found in our cabinets, motors, machines, and our world.

Through this unit, you will understand how electricity flows, how magnets work, and how electricity and magnetism are related. Please use the resources provided. If the videos do not work for you, change devices (some do not work on Apple products). All work must be completed neatly and in complete sentences.

Each activity will be graded separately in this unit.

Electricity and Magnetism: Unit Overview

These are the required elements to this unit.

S5P3a Static Electricity
Investigate static electricity.
S5P3b Electric Circuit
Determine the necessary components for completing an electric circuit.
S5P3c Insulators/Conductors of Electricity
Investigate common materials to determine if they are insulators or conductors of electricity.
S5P3d Bar Magnet vs. Electromagnet
Compare a bar magnet and an electromagnet.

Mini-lessons will be covered in class each day by Mr. Brazile.You need to know the answers to these questions.

What is electricity?
What is static electricity?
How does electricity flow?
How does a series circuit differ from a parallel circuit?
What is an insulator or a conductor?
What is a magnet?
What is repulsion and attraction?
How is a bar magnet different from an electromagnet?

Use these resources to discover information for your unit.

EduCrate Videos
BrainPop Video
Unit Checklist
The Electricity and Magnetism Unit: Activities

Electricity - What is it?

Seriously, I'm asking you. What is it? Try explaining it without using the word "electric" or "electricity." Now try explaining it without using those words and bouncing on one leg without smiling. Can't do it? See you in Summer School!


I could give you the information....

But then you wouldn't learn as much if I just gave it to you.

So....check out this video


Ok, so it didn't explain everything, but it was pretty cool, right?

Check out this video to learn what a scientist has to say about electricity and what it is.

  • Electricity Introduction Video


Just in case that wasn't clear enough, check out "Investigating Electricity and Magnetism," pages 1-5.

Feel smarter? You are.


But are you smarter than Malia? I bet Suri doesn't think so!

  • Malia's Electricity Vocabulary Video


Want to see how your great grandparents learned about electricity? Watch this next video (it actually explains it well).


Did you grow up in New York in the 1950s? Of course you didn't, you're a kid now. But if you did, you might have seen Mr. Wizard explain electricity.


Schoolhouse Rock rocks electricity



Now do you REALLY want to see how the cool people teach electricity?

You can't. I haven't made that video yet.

But Bill Nye has and he's pretty cool. Check it out.

Electricity Presentation

Create a presentation with the following definitions.

  • You can use paper/pencil, Quizlet, Evernote, video, Prezi, etc.
  • Include terms and definitions (in complete sentences).
  • Make sure it's neat and legible.



  1. Define "attraction."
  2. Define "bar magnet."
  3. Define "circuit."
  4. Define "closed circuit."
  5. Define "conductor."
  6. Deifine "electric charges."
  7. Define "electric current."
  8. Define "electric field."
  9. Define "electromagnet."
  10. Define "insulator."
  11. Define "open circuit."
  12. Define "repulsion."
  13. Define "static electricity."



Building Frankenstein


You know Frankenstein, right? Not personally I mean. Unless you know him personally. Wouldn't that be cool?
Except conversations with him and all that grunting. Anyway, I meant to say - you know who he is at least, right?

Dr. Frankenstein built a man in a lab. Brought him to life by a natural electric current (lightning).
Cool, huh?
Well, we're not doing that, but it's a great segue (look it up - it's a word) into circuits.

What are circuits? Glad you asked.
Oh, wait. You didn't ask, did you? It doesn't matter, I'm going to tell you anyway.

But I have things to do, so why not read about it first?

Check out Investigating Electricity and Magnetism, pages 6-11.
Pay close attention to these terms: electric current, series circuit, parallel circuit, conductor, and insulator.

Yawn....I know, you hate to read so you jumped to this part first. Well, that's lazy and we don't like lazy, so go back and read it now.

Need something to explain circuits a little more? Check this out

Basic introduction to electricity

(narrator says "battery" a little bit different though)

Video from Science Kids (http://www.sciencekids.co.nz)


Interactive Activity from Science Kids (http://www.sciencekids.co.nz)

Interactive Activity from Science Kids (http://www.sciencekids.co.nz)

Build Circuts

Now you need to build circuits.

  • Check out the materials (battery holders, batteries, wire pieces, light bulb holders, and light bulbs - treat them with respect).
  • Create a working series circuit. Submit a picture and explanation of your circuit (in a well-written paragraph) and how you make it light the bulb, along with what makes it a series circuit..
  • Create a working parallel circuit. Submit a picture and explanation of your circuit (in a well-written paragraph) and how you make this circuit light the bulb, along with what makes it a parallel circuit.


Insulators vs Conductors

If you're working with electricity, it's extremely important to know what items are insulators and which are conductors.

Not this conductor

Image from U.S. Dept of Transportation

Conductors are things that conduct, or carry, electricity. A conductor allows electricity to freely flow through it.

Insulators are the opposite. Insulators slow the flow of electricity, keeping it from flowing freely,

Why is this important to know? Ask the guy who invented iron gloves to handle electric wires....kidding.

You can't ask him, he's dead. If you try to grab something electric with iron, a conductor, you'll get shocked. (That can kill you.)

It's way smarter to use something like rubber, which doesn't conduct electricity.


Insulator vs Conductors Video



Test It

Check out:

  • Battery holder
  • Battery
  • Wire pieces
  • Bulb holder
  • Bulb
  • Magnet test kit

Test each of the materials in the Magnet test kit by touching the wires to complete a circuit to each material. Complete the graphic organizer to record your experiment.


What is it good for? Absolutely nothing, say it again! Magnets, what is it good for?...
You only get that joke if you're into Edwin Starr. Even if you know the song, it's a stupid joke (but good song).

So what are magnets good for? If you aren't sure, you should look into it. Magnets are used in many places.
I bet you didn't even realize that. Sort of a negative thing for me to say....
Hey, speaking of negative - did you know magnets have negatives? Poles at least. And positive poles too.

This is part of the whole "opposites attract" saying. In magnets, it's true. It's not just a fact - it's THE fact about magnets.
Opposites will always attract each other. So positive will always attract negative and negative will always attract positive.

Here's where it gets really wild (in a nerdy sort of way) - magnets with the same polarity (get it - poles?) will repel, or push away, each other.
Two positives will push apart and two negatives will push apart. Cool, huh?

There's a high speed train that uses this idea and electromagnets. Look into it, then check out the Extra Credit page.


Check out this video to learn more about magnets: http://www.schooltube.com/embed/ae887765d95b71668b29.


Magnet Exploration

Check out a magnet, a bag of thingies (wood, metal, plastic, aluminum foil sheet, aluminum foil ball, coins, etc.). Treat them with respect and return all pieces.

Complete the graphic organizer. Make sure you predict before you test (makes sense, but some people need to be told).

Electromagnet Mayhem!

Watch below as our evil genius plans to dominate the world!!

Electromagnet Mayhem, Part 1

Electromagnet Mayhem, Part 2

So, what did we learn from the evil genius? Bare chested flower guys are tough? Taking over the world with a dumb plan is....um, dumb?
Yes, but we also learned that electromagnets need a power source.

Electromagnet Vocabulary

Let's break "electromagnet" down into 2 parts. Electro and Magnet.

Electro means electricity

Magnet means it attracts, or is attracted to, iron-based objects.

Together, electromagnet means it's a magnet that is operated by electricity.

Electromagnets - "How Stuff Works"

Check out this article (read: page 1, page 3, page 5, and page 6):

If you read the pages I listed, you just learned everything about electromagnets.
If not, you're no smarter than you were a minute ago and the next lesson will make no sense.
Plus, you'll ask me how to make an electromagnet giving yourself away as not having read the article.
So, choose your path - one of knowledge and independence or one of laziness, embarrassment, and a lack of electromagnets...

Electromagnetism Video

Electromagnets - DIY (Do It Yourself)

Create your own electromagnet.

ElectroMagnet Part 1 from Kay Hollenbach on Vimeo.

How many paperclips can it pick up?

The current record holder: Me with 3

What's the key to getting more clips to stick?

What? No Graded Assignments?

Oops, you spoke too soon.

Create a presentation with the following pieces of information:

  1. Definition of "electromagnet."
  2. List the basic components of an electromagnet.
  3. Identify the key benefit of using an electromagnet over another magnet with the same strength.
  4. Identify three uses in our world today for electomagnets.


And remember.....

No diabolical plans to take over the world!


Electricity and Magnetism - Extra Credit

Your extra credit will only be counted if you've completed all required assignments.


All Extra Credit should be completed by cloesly following the directions.


Complete a working model of a Maglev train. 

Your train should be a real, physical model using magnets (sorry, but no Minecraft or picture models accepted on this one).

If you can't bring in the model, I need a video of the train in action along with a description of how it's built.

Doll House (or for the guys - a Man Cave)

Construct a house, or bunker, or building, or some sort of structure with working lights and switches. It must be battery powered and use your knowledge of series/parallel circuits. It doesn't have to be too elaborate, just show me you know how to make it work with switches.

If you can't bring in the model, I need a video of the house/bunker/fort/man-cave in action along with a description of how it's built.

Your Magnetic Invention

What can you come up with that uses the power of magnets? A magnetic walkway? A magnetic elevator? Impress us. Make a working model and let's see it!

If you can't bring in the model, I need a video of the invention in action along with a description of how it's built.


Great Facts Interesting, strange, and funny.

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