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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds TEACHER: Let’s start with a metal foil. So if you grab the metal foil. OK, hold it out again, but this time you hold the metal foil in that hand, and you hold the other side of the metal foil with your left hand, OK? But make sure your fingers are not touching. Right. Both hands again. Now, if electricity can pass through that, what will happen to this when we start holding hands?

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds STUDENT: It will make that weird noise.

Skip to 0 minutes and 33 seconds TEACHER: It’ll make a noise. So you said it should make a noise now, OK? [METAL NOISE] So is that conducting electricity?

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 0 minutes and 41 seconds TEACHER: Yes. Right, now let’s try the felt.

Skip to 0 minutes and 43 seconds STUDENT: The felt.

Skip to 0 minutes and 44 seconds TEACHER: You said the felt should conduct electricity as well.

Skip to 0 minutes and 46 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 0 minutes and 47 seconds TEACHER: OK? So do the same again.

Skip to 0 minutes and 49 seconds STUDENT: I think everything might help except for the bunch of Post-it notes.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 seconds STUDENT: [GASPS] No, it doesn’t. No.

Skip to 0 minutes and 56 seconds STUDENT: Aw.

Skip to 0 minutes and 57 seconds TEACHER: Oh, you sound really sad. [LAUGHTER] Right, so does the felt conduct electricity?

Skip to 1 minute and 2 seconds STUDENT: I thought it would.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds STUDENT: No.

Skip to 1 minute and 3 seconds TEACHER: No, the felt doesn’t conduct electricity. Right, so that goes onto the no pile. Let’s just try a couple more things. Let’s try the coin.

Skip to 1 minute and 10 seconds STUDENT: The coin.

Skip to 1 minute and 11 seconds TEACHER: You said the coin wouldn’t.

Skip to 1 minute and 12 seconds STUDENT: Because it’s too small, but now I feel it would.

Skip to 1 minute and 15 seconds TEACHER: OK, Henry.

Skip to 1 minute and 16 seconds STUDENT: I think it would.

Skip to 1 minute and 17 seconds TEACHER: But make sure your hands aren’t touching.

Skip to 1 minute and 19 seconds STUDENT: I still think it doesn’t.

Skip to 1 minute and 20 seconds STUDENT: Too tiny. [METAL NOISE]

Skip to 1 minute and 22 seconds STUDENT: Oh, it does.

Skip to 1 minute and 23 seconds STUDENT: Oh, definitely. You’re glowing.

Skip to 1 minute and 24 seconds TEACHER: She’s not glowing. Right, let’s try one more. This time, OK.

Skip to 1 minute and 30 seconds STUDENT: Oh no.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds STUDENT: Oh no.

Skip to 1 minute and 31 seconds TEACHER: So you’re going to put one hand into the water, and you’re going to put the other hand into the water. Make sure your hands aren’t touching. Let’s try. Ready hold hands.

Skip to 1 minute and 38 seconds STUDENT: What if they explode.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 seconds STUDENT: Oh.

Skip to 1 minute and 40 seconds STUDENT: OK, that is surprising.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds STUDENT: What? How are they not exploding? [METAL NOISES]

Skip to 1 minute and 48 seconds TEACHER: OK.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 seconds STUDENT: No.

Skip to 1 minute and 51 seconds STUDENT: No that didn’t work. Oh.

Skip to 1 minute and 56 seconds It doesn’t work.

Skip to 1 minute and 57 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 1 minute and 58 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 2 minutes and 1 second STUDENT: Hold your paper to the light.

Skip to 2 minutes and 3 seconds STUDENT: Let’s try a bag.

Skip to 2 minutes and 4 seconds STUDENT: Let’s the leany thing.

Skip to 2 minutes and 8 seconds STUDENT: That was here.

Skip to 2 minutes and 15 seconds No. That’s doesn’t work.

Skip to 2 minutes and 17 seconds STUDENT: [INAUDIBLE]

Skip to 2 minutes and 19 seconds STUDENT: Pencil.

Skip to 2 minutes and 19 seconds STUDENT: Try a pencil.

Skip to 2 minutes and 23 seconds STUDENT: Nope.

Skip to 2 minutes and 24 seconds STUDENT: Nope.

Skip to 2 minutes and 26 seconds STUDENT: Well.

Skip to 2 minutes and 27 seconds STUDENT: Oops. Maybe it doesn’t work because–

Skip to 2 minutes and 30 seconds STUDENT: It’s too thick.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds STUDENT: –and it’s got those little bumps in the middle, so that’s maybe affecting it.

Skip to 2 minutes and 37 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 2 minutes and 38 seconds STUDENT: I don’t know.

Skip to 2 minutes and 39 seconds STUDENT: Mandy. Have we tried the pencil?

Skip to 2 minutes and 40 seconds STUDENT: Post-it notes.

Skip to 2 minutes and 41 seconds STUDENT: We’ve never actually done that really.

Skip to 2 minutes and 44 seconds STUDENT: I thought we already did the–

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 seconds STUDENT: Oh yeah.

Skip to 2 minutes and 46 seconds STUDENT: Do the plastic bag.

Skip to 2 minutes and 48 seconds STUDENT: Oh yeah, plastic bag.

Skip to 2 minutes and 49 seconds STUDENT: That wasn’t in the testing thing, but OK.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 seconds STUDENT: Think it’ll work?

Skip to 2 minutes and 53 seconds STUDENT: I think it is because this is too like wavy or something.

Skip to 2 minutes and 57 seconds STUDENT: Yeah, it’s too wavy, and it’s too squishy.

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 seconds STUDENT: I think it’s too squishy. Too squishy.

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 1 second STUDENT: [LAUGHS]

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 seconds STUDENT: Squishy bag.

Skip to 3 minutes and 4 seconds TEACHER: How about you put that on in the yes pile, and why don’t you try that one and see if that one works.

Skip to 3 minutes and 8 seconds STUDENT: OK.

Skip to 3 minutes and 11 seconds STUDENT: I touch and feel it.

Skip to 3 minutes and 14 seconds STUDENT: Oh yeah?

Skip to 3 minutes and 16 seconds STUDENT: There. [METAL NOISE]

Skip to 3 minutes and 18 seconds STUDENT: Yay. Yes, silverware does work. I think it works with every pencil because of the lead. [METAL NOISE]

Skip to 3 minutes and 25 seconds STUDENT: Well it didn’t work on the last pencil, did it? Didn’t work on that one, did it?

Skip to 3 minutes and 29 seconds STUDENT: I mean, it does.

Skip to 3 minutes and 30 seconds STUDENT: Yeah. Oh wait, that didn’t work, did it?

Skip to 3 minutes and 33 seconds STUDENT: No.

Skip to 3 minutes and 34 seconds STUDENT: Oh, so I think it’s because two bits of leads.

Skip to 3 minutes and 36 seconds STUDENT: It’s got two leads. Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 37 seconds STUDENT: It’s got two sharper leads.

Skip to 3 minutes and 39 seconds STUDENT: At the ends.

Skip to 3 minutes and 40 seconds STUDENT: Or maybe this one’s round, and that one’s different, like a wave shape.

Skip to 3 minutes and 43 seconds STUDENT: Oh yeah, this one’s got little different patterns on it.

Skip to 3 minutes and 48 seconds STUDENT: So maybe it’s like flat.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 50 seconds STUDENT: Hmm.

Skip to 3 minutes and 51 seconds STUDENT: I think it’s because the metal would work, but the rubber’s blocking it maybe.

Skip to 3 minutes and 57 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 58 seconds STUDENT: Yeah.

Skip to 3 minutes and 58 seconds STUDENT: To cover it.

Skip to 3 minutes and 59 seconds STUDENT: Disgraced rubber. You’re a disgrace.

Skip to 4 minutes and 8 seconds STUDENT: Yup.

Skip to 4 minutes and 10 seconds STUDENT: It’s another disgrace. Another one.

Skip to 4 minutes and 15 seconds STUDENT: OK.

Skip to 4 minutes and 16 seconds STUDENT: Disgraced.

Skip to 4 minutes and 16 seconds STUDENT: Try pulling it against the thingy.

Skip to 4 minutes and 19 seconds STUDENT: The thingy.

Skip to 4 minutes and 22 seconds STUDENT: OK. [METAL NOISE]

Skip to 4 minutes and 25 seconds STUDENT: Well, what is that.

Skip to 4 minutes and 27 seconds STUDENT: This.

Skip to 4 minutes and 28 seconds STUDENT: Oh.

Skip to 4 minutes and 29 seconds STUDENT: I think it’s that one. I think I know why this one works because maybe it’s because it’s shiny.

Skip to 4 minutes and 38 seconds STUDENT: I think it’s because it’s metal. Because the coin worked and it was metal the lead worked because it’s metal.

Skip to 4 minutes and 40 seconds STUDENT: I think it’s because metal.

Skip to 4 minutes and 42 seconds STUDENT: Yeah, it’s metal and shiny. Don’t forget that one.

Skip to 4 minutes and 45 seconds STUDENT: Don’t forget the evil pencil thing.

Skip to 4 minutes and 47 seconds STUDENT: Didn’t we already?

Skip to 4 minutes and 48 seconds STUDENT: Evil.

Skip to 4 minutes and 49 seconds STUDENT: We already did that though.

Skip to 4 minutes and 50 seconds STUDENT: It’s not evil.

Skip to 4 minutes and 50 seconds STUDENT: The shallow.

Skip to 4 minutes and 50 seconds STUDENT: Oh yeah.

Skip to 4 minutes and 51 seconds STUDENT: But the lead.

Skip to 4 minutes and 53 seconds STUDENT: But they didn’t. It’s not working with them.

Skip to 4 minutes and 59 seconds STUDENT: Oh no.

Skip to 4 minutes and 59 seconds STUDENT: Nope.

Skip to 5 minutes and 3 seconds STUDENT: That’s because she wasn’t holding the lead. That’s why it didn’t work. [METAL NOISE]

Skip to 5 minutes and 13 seconds OK, I think that one works because, as you can see, it’s got lead on both sides. And when you hold the wooden part, and one lead part, it doesn’t work, but when you hold both leads, it does work. I think that’s why.

Skip to 5 minutes and 33 seconds STUDENT: I think all metal does work because that’s the only metal stuff here, and they all work.

Skip to 5 minutes and 40 seconds STUDENT: But that’s metal.

Skip to 5 minutes and 41 seconds STUDENT: No, that’s metal.

Skip to 5 minutes and 41 seconds STUDENT: Pencil’s not metal.

Skip to 5 minutes and 42 seconds STUDENT: Oh yeah, but they they still have more at the end.

Skip to 5 minutes and 44 seconds STUDENT: Because it has lead in it. That’s the metal.

Skip to 5 minutes and 46 seconds STUDENT: Yeah. What if we both hold the wood? [METAL NOISE]

Skip to 5 minutes and 55 seconds STUDENT: That’s kind of an annoying noise.

Skip to 5 minutes and 57 seconds STUDENT: I like that noise.

Skip to 5 minutes and 58 seconds STUDENT: OK, that one works as well because it’s metal.

Exploring electrical conductors and insulators

In the video you can see children investigating electrical conductors and insulators using an energy stick. Energy sticks are a safe, inexpensive and engaging resource to have for electricity lessons. Children can create an electrical circuit using their bodies and the energy stick. It can be used to demonstrate complete circuits and breaks in a circuit.

Energy sticks are also great for testing electrical conductors and insulators. The children need to make their circuit through holding hands. Then two of the children will add an object they are testing to the circuit to see if that material is an electrical conductor. They do this by holding each end of the item, being careful not to touch each other. If the energy stick lights up and buzzes, the material conducts electricity and if it doesn’t, it’s an electrical insulator.

You can also show children that tap water conducts electricity safely using energy sticks. Again the children make their circuit. This time two children put a finger in either end of a bowl of water without touching each other.

If your school does not have energy sticks, you can also test electrical conductors and insulators with circuit equipment. However, it is not safe to test water with this equipment.

Using a practical activity such as this, children’s misconceptions can be challenged and knowledge rebuilt. Allow children to retest, or try another bowl of water, plant or piece of graphite, so that they can confirm these new ideas and reconstruct their learning.

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This video is from the free online course:

Teaching Primary Science: Physics

National STEM Learning Centre