How to Make a Circuit Board to Demonstrate Simple Electrical Circuits for Kids

Current Electricity

Electric current has become a powerful force in human society in the last two hundred years. It is used to extend daylight hours for reading and working. It powers virtually every appliance in our homes. Refrigerators keep our food fresh for days or weeks now. In the past, cold cellars were used by some but without anywhere near the effectiveness. Freezers keep frozen food perishable for up to a year and allow us to stockpile larger quantities to reduce in my case long trips to the city. Computers and the internet with which I am writing this hub would be impossible without electric current. What would young girls do without their hairdryers, curlers and straighteners? Our blackberries and IPhones would not run without electric current. Our entire society is indelibly intertwined with this phenomenon.

Children and adolescents, with their immeasurable curiosity love to investigate in a hands-on way. Allowing them to investigate a concept such as current electricity upon which their entire world hinges, will give them a greater understanding and hopefully eventual wisdom in a force upon which we rely so greatly rely but which presently has devastatingly negative consequences in terms of the pollution created by its mass production.

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Materials required to create a simple circuit board to investigate basic current electricity.Nuts and bolts; light bulbs (a load) to fit the holdersBattery holder (D batteries (a source) will provide the energy to light three bulbs.Battery holder with D sized batteries.Screw-based bulb receptacle with screw-based bulb.Switch will allow the current to be controlled.Plastic coloured copper wire with attached alligator clips to allow for various circuit configurations.Alligator clips of various colours.Screws and nuts with appropriate screw driver for screw heads.
Materials required to create a simple circuit board to investigate basic current electricity.
Materials required to create a simple circuit board to investigate basic current electricity. | Source
Nuts and bolts; light bulbs (a load) to fit the holders
Nuts and bolts; light bulbs (a load) to fit the holders | Source
Battery holder (D batteries (a source) will provide the energy to light three bulbs.
Battery holder (D batteries (a source) will provide the energy to light three bulbs. | Source
Battery holder with D sized batteries.
Battery holder with D sized batteries. | Source
Screw-based bulb receptacle with screw-based bulb.
Screw-based bulb receptacle with screw-based bulb. | Source
Switch will allow the current to be controlled.
Switch will allow the current to be controlled. | Source
Plastic coloured copper wire with attached alligator clips to allow for various circuit configurations.
Plastic coloured copper wire with attached alligator clips to allow for various circuit configurations. | Source
Alligator clips of various colours.
Alligator clips of various colours. | Source
Screws and nuts with appropriate screw driver for screw heads.
Screws and nuts with appropriate screwdriver for screw heads. | Source

How to Assemble a Simple Circuit Board that Clearly Demonstrates Simple Circuits

Materials:

  • peg board or at least 1/4 inch plywood for attaching the components
  • plastic covered copper connecting wires with attached alligator clips
  • screw-base lamp holders (I used ones that were for E-10 bulbs)(3)
  • screw-base bulbs that will fit into your lamp holders (try to get as low voltage bulbs as possible)(3)
  • battery receptacle for at least two D-sized batteries
  • D batteries (at least 2)
  • knife switch
  • screw driver to match screw heads
  • screws long enough to penetrate the components and firmly attach them to the peg board

Assembling the Circuit Board

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A wooden frame is not required for the operation of your circuit board but it does provide a finishing touch and a means of storing the connecting wires, bulbs and batteries.A wooden frame is attached to the peg board to lift it off of the surface to allow components to be screwed into peg board and to allow for storage of unattached components.A groove was created in the centre of each wooden side to fit peg board.  The four corners of the board frame were screwed together using a drill.After components were laid out for adequate spacing, the battery comparment, the knife switch and the screw-base lamp holders were screwed onto the peg board using a drill to pre-make holes and then a screw driver to screw in the screws.Screwing in the knife switch.Three lamp holders screwed into place.The positive lead from the battery holder is hard-wired to the knife switch to reduce the number of alligator clip connecting wires required.  Strip a bit of the plastic coating the wire and make a wire loop.Unscrew one of the screws of the knife switch and wrap loop around neck of screw.  Tighten the screw gently again using the screw driver.Positive terminal of battery holder and knife switch hard-wired.Attached components of the circuit board - battery holder, knife switch and lamp holders (shown with bulbs in).
A wooden frame is not required for the operation of your circuit board but it does provide a finishing touch and a means of storing the connecting wires, bulbs and batteries.
A wooden frame is not required for the operation of your circuit board but it does provide a finishing touch and a means of storing the connecting wires, bulbs and batteries. | Source
A wooden frame is attached to the peg board to lift it off of the surface to allow components to be screwed into peg board and to allow for storage of unattached components.
A wooden frame is attached to the peg board to lift it off of the surface to allow components to be screwed into peg board and to allow for storage of unattached components. | Source
A groove was created in the centre of each wooden side to fit peg board.  The four corners of the board frame were screwed together using a drill.
A groove was created in the centre of each wooden side to fit peg board. The four corners of the board frame were screwed together using a drill. | Source
After components were laid out for adequate spacing, the battery comparment, the knife switch and the screw-base lamp holders were screwed onto the peg board using a drill to pre-make holes and then a screw driver to screw in the screws.
After components were laid out for adequate spacing, the battery comparment, the knife switch and the screw-base lamp holders were screwed onto the peg board using a drill to pre-make holes and then a screw driver to screw in the screws. | Source
Screwing in the knife switch.
Screwing in the knife switch. | Source
Three lamp holders screwed into place.
Three lamp holders screwed into place. | Source
The positive lead from the battery holder is hard-wired to the knife switch to reduce the number of alligator clip connecting wires required.  Strip a bit of the plastic coating the wire and make a wire loop.
The positive lead from the battery holder is hard-wired to the knife switch to reduce the number of alligator clip connecting wires required. Strip a bit of the plastic coating the wire and make a wire loop. | Source
Unscrew one of the screws of the knife switch and wrap loop around neck of screw.  Tighten the screw gently again using the screw driver.
Unscrew one of the screws of the knife switch and wrap loop around neck of screw. Tighten the screw gently again using the screw driver. | Source
Positive terminal of battery holder and knife switch hard-wired.
Positive terminal of battery holder and knife switch hard-wired. | Source
Attached components of the circuit board - battery holder, knife switch and lamp holders (shown with bulbs in).
Attached components of the circuit board - battery holder, knife switch and lamp holders (shown with bulbs in). | Source

Steps for Assembling the Circuit Board

  1. Cut a piece of peg board to your desired dimensions after spacing out the following components on the board: battery receptacle, knife switch, three lamp holders. I made mine 18 inches by 18 inches in order to be able to clearly demonstrate more complex circuits. The board was cut using a table saw. 12 inches by 12 inches would probably be adequate for showing simple series and parallel circuits.
  2. A wooden frame is not required for the operation of your circuit board but it does provide a finishing touch and a means of storing the connecting wires, bulbs and batteries.
  3. A wooden frame was also attached to the peg board to lift it off of the surface to allow components to be screwed into the peg board.
  4. A groove was created in the centre of each wooden side to fit the peg board. The four corners of the board frame were screwed together using a drill.
  5. After the components were laid out for adequate spacing, the battery receptacle, the knife switch and the screw-base lamp holders were screwed onto the peg board using a drill to pre-make holes and then a screw driver to screw in the screws.
  6. I left room for a second batter receptacle to be installed. Two D batteries provide only 4V of potential difference which may result in dimly lit bulbs in the series circuit once you hook up more than one bulb depending on the voltage requirement of the bulbs used.
  7. Three lamp holders are screwed into place in a single line in front of the knife switch. Leave ample space to allow for connecting wires to be attached in varying configurations.
  8. The positive lead from the battery holder is hard-wired to the knife switch to reduce the number of alligator clip connecting wires required. Strip a bit of the plastic coating from the wire and make a wire loop.
  9. Unscrew one of the screws of the knife switch and wrap the wire loop around neck of the screw. Tighten the screw gently again using the screw driver.
  10. Check each component to make sure each is securely screwed onto the peg board.

Creating a Series Circuit

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Batteries are in battery receptacle and bulbs are in bulb holders.Attach the alligator clip to the negative terminal (black wire) of the battery and  the other end of the wire to the second bulb from the switch.Attach one end of a second connector wire to the same bulb and the other end of this wire to the first bulb from the switch.Using a third connector wire, attach the clip to the first bulb from the switch and the other end of this wire to the knife switch.Closing the knife switch, you should see both bulbs light up.  Take your finger and follow the connector wires from the batteries, through the loads, the switch and back to the battery.  You should only trace one path for the electron flow.A close up of a lighted bulb.  Electrical energy has been converted to light energy by this bulb.Follow the single path of the electrons in the series circuit with your finger.
Batteries are in battery receptacle and bulbs are in bulb holders.
Batteries are in battery receptacle and bulbs are in bulb holders. | Source
Attach the alligator clip to the negative terminal (black wire) of the battery and  the other end of the wire to the second bulb from the switch.
Attach the alligator clip to the negative terminal (black wire) of the battery and the other end of the wire to the second bulb from the switch. | Source
Attach one end of a second connector wire to the same bulb and the other end of this wire to the first bulb from the switch.
Attach one end of a second connector wire to the same bulb and the other end of this wire to the first bulb from the switch. | Source
Using a third connector wire, attach the clip to the first bulb from the switch and the other end of this wire to the knife switch.
Using a third connector wire, attach the clip to the first bulb from the switch and the other end of this wire to the knife switch. | Source
Closing the knife switch, you should see both bulbs light up.  Take your finger and follow the connector wires from the batteries, through the loads, the switch and back to the battery.  You should only trace one path for the electron flow.
Closing the knife switch, you should see both bulbs light up. Take your finger and follow the connector wires from the batteries, through the loads, the switch and back to the battery. You should only trace one path for the electron flow. | Source
A close up of a lighted bulb.  Electrical energy has been converted to light energy by this bulb.
A close up of a lighted bulb. Electrical energy has been converted to light energy by this bulb. | Source
Follow the single path of the electrons in the series circuit with your finger.
Follow the single path of the electrons in the series circuit with your finger. | Source

Terminology of Basic Current Electricity

Current electricity is the movement of electrons from a source of electrons such as a battery or solar cell along a path such as a copper wire.The electric current carries energy from the source to an electrical device called a load (light bulb, motor) that converts the electrical energy to a useful form.

  • a light bulb converts electrical energy to light energy
  • a motor converts electrical energy to kinetic energy.

Once the current passes through the load, it returns to the source where the cycle begins again.

Each electrical circuit contains four main parts:

  • source of electrons such as a battery or solar cell
  • a switch to turn the flow of electrons on and off
  • connecting wires (usually copper) that allow the electrons to flow from the source through the load
  • one or more loads which convert the electrical energy to a useful form

There are two main kinds of electrical circuits:

  • series circuit in which the current can be traced through only one path from the source, through the load and back again to the source.
  • parallel circuit in which each load has its own mini-circuit; in other words, a separate path can be traced for each load present; if there are three loads, then there are three separate paths for each of those loads.

Creating a Parallel Circuit

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Attach a connecting wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the left side of the third bulb from the switch.Attach a second connecting wire from the right side of the third bulb to the right side of the second bulb from the switch.Attach a third connecting wire from the left side of the third bulb to the left side of the second bulb from the switch.Close-up of the first two bulbs hooked up in parallel.Attach a fourth connecting wire from the right side of the second bulb to the right side of the first bulb from the switch.  Attach a fifth connecting wire from the left side of the second bulb to the left side of the first bulb.Attach a sixth connecting wire from the right side of the first bulb from the switch to the arm of the switch.Close the switch and all three bulbs should light with equal intensity.  You should be able to follow a separate circuit for each bulb with your finger.A close-up view of the lighted bulbs.  Bulbs in hooked up in a parallel circuit should have the same intensity.
Attach a connecting wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the left side of the third bulb from the switch.
Attach a connecting wire from the negative terminal of the battery to the left side of the third bulb from the switch. | Source
Attach a second connecting wire from the right side of the third bulb to the right side of the second bulb from the switch.
Attach a second connecting wire from the right side of the third bulb to the right side of the second bulb from the switch. | Source
Attach a third connecting wire from the left side of the third bulb to the left side of the second bulb from the switch.
Attach a third connecting wire from the left side of the third bulb to the left side of the second bulb from the switch. | Source
Close-up of the first two bulbs hooked up in parallel.
Close-up of the first two bulbs hooked up in parallel. | Source
Attach a fourth connecting wire from the right side of the second bulb to the right side of the first bulb from the switch.  Attach a fifth connecting wire from the left side of the second bulb to the left side of the first bulb.
Attach a fourth connecting wire from the right side of the second bulb to the right side of the first bulb from the switch. Attach a fifth connecting wire from the left side of the second bulb to the left side of the first bulb. | Source
Attach a sixth connecting wire from the right side of the first bulb from the switch to the arm of the switch.
Attach a sixth connecting wire from the right side of the first bulb from the switch to the arm of the switch. | Source
Close the switch and all three bulbs should light with equal intensity.  You should be able to follow a separate circuit for each bulb with your finger.
Close the switch and all three bulbs should light with equal intensity. You should be able to follow a separate circuit for each bulb with your finger. | Source
A close-up view of the lighted bulbs.  Bulbs in hooked up in a parallel circuit should have the same intensity.
A close-up view of the lighted bulbs. Bulbs in hooked up in a parallel circuit should have the same intensity. | Source

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Comments 2 comments

wellamae 4 years ago

the circuit energy is very great for all children


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Teresa Coppens 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada Author

Thank you for your comment we'll amaze.

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