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Act it out!

Drama can be a great way of demonstrating concepts to children. These activities are engaging and have been shown to have positive impacts on understanding (Osama H. Abed, 2016). They model difficult scientific concepts which can be difficult or impossible to see.

These types of models tend not to be perfect representations of a process and may cause misconceptions if not addressed by the teacher. However, used carefully they make a great tool for introducing concepts to children which can be built upon throughout their schooling.

Acting out what happens in a circuit can help children start to understand the tricky concepts that are hidden from the eye. We could use it to address the misconception that cells go flat because the electricity has run out.

A group of children can be placed around a hoop and asked to hold it loosely in their hands. Explain that the hoop represents the electrons which are in the wires. Ask them if there is any part of the circuit which the electrons are not in. They will realise that the electrons are throughout an electrical circuit. Nominate one of the children to be the cell. The cell gives the electrons energy, so a push. Ask the nominated child to begin to give the electrons a push. The hoop will begin to move round. Explain that this shows the electrons flowing in the wires, they all started moving at the same time. Question the children about what will happen if the cell runs out of energy to give the electrons a push (it goes flat). The hoop (electrons) will stop moving. Has the electricity run out? No, the electrons are still there, the cell has just stopped generating the energy to give the electrons a push.


Acting concepts out can be used in many topics in the primary science curriculum. Have you used any? How successful was it? If you haven’t used it before, have a look at the curriculum and think about where you could act out a tricky concept.

Note down your thoughts below.

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This article is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Physics

National STEM Learning Centre