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In this problem-based learning activity, you will experiment with a battery and light bulbs to build your own flashlights. The purpose of the activity is to develop understanding of fundamental electrical circuit concepts, including voltage, current, and closed circuits, and to help eliminate common misconceptions.
Development of this material was supported by the Arizona Board of Regents' Learner Centered Education Grant Program, Grant #11BU06.
Instructor information for this module is available here .


The objective of this problem based learning activity is to create several simple electrical circuits with light bulbs and a battery. The purpose of the activity is to introduce you to several fundamental concepts in electrical circuits and identify and correct some potential misconceptions that you may have about electrical circuits.

Lighting one bulb

Suppose you are driving late at night along a dark road and your car suddenly stops. Hoping to figure out what is wrong with the engine, you grab your flashlight and step out of the car, but accidentally drop the flashlight on the the pavement where it breaks into several pieces. You retrieve a battery and a light bulb from the black top. You have a few wires in the glove box leftover from your attempt to install a stereo. Can you use the battery, light bulbs, and wires to create enough light to check your engine?

Preliminary reading

Before beginning the activity, read this description of a light bulb . Pay particular attention to the figure of the light bulb-how is the filament connected to the two contacts?

Additional reading resources

The following resources give additional information about circuits, and you may find them useful and interesting either before or after the problem based learning activity.

Preliminary questions

Before beginning the activity, answer the following questions:

  • On , mark the path that electricity takes through the light bulb.
  • Sketch how you could connect a wire, battery, and bulb to light the bulb.
Discuss your answers with your team.

Cutaway drawing of a lightbulb.


Working in your team, connect the battery and light bulb using wires so that the light bulb is lit. Once you create a working circuit, try disconnecting each wire in your circuit (and then reconnecting it); what happens?

Post-activity questions

  • Sketch your working circuit-how is it different from your initial sketch? Why is it different?
  • What path does electricity take through the light bulb?
  • What path does electricity take through your working circuit?
  • An electrical schematic is a symbolic representation of a circuit. shows schematic symbols for a battery and a light bulb; lines between the symbols represent wires. Drawn a schematic that represents your working circuit.
Schematic symbols for a battery and a light bulb.

Lighting two bulbs

After you successfully light up the bulb, you discover that it is too small to illuminate the engine compartment. You remember that your flashlight had a spare bulb; you eventually locate it and try to create a circuit that generates twice as much light.

Preliminary question

Before beginning this portion of the activity, complete the following preliminary question:

  • Sketch how you will connect wires, the battery, and both bulbs so they both light and provide more light than a single bulb.
Discuss your sketch with your team.


Working in your team, find two different configurations in which the battery, wires, and lights are connected so that both bulbs light. For each configuration,

  • Draw a schematic diagram.
  • Note the brightness of both light bulbs.
  • Measure and record the voltage across the battery terminals.
  • Measure and record the voltage across the two lightbulbs.

Post-activity questions

  • Which configuration provides the larger amount of light? Can you relate this to the voltage across the light bulbs?

Questions & Answers

what are the factors effecting demand sedule
Kalimu Reply
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ways of improving human capital
kelly Reply
what is human capital
Capital can be defined as man made assets use in production .
What is the differences between central Bank And Commercial Bank ?. 2 for each
Two types of bank clearing house.
what are the most durable assets of a bank
What is Opportunity Cost?
Cephas Reply
may be defined as expression of cost in terms of forgone alternative.
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Saniya Reply
You ask questions on any topics you find difficult.
What is opportunity cost?
is price elasticity of demand the same as elasticity of demand
Favour Reply
not really
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please explain
explanations please
price elasticity of demand is the reaction of customers /demand to price changes(increase or decrease) elasticity of demand is the reaction of prices brought about by the change in demand
thank you
state the laws of demand and supply
dd: when price rises demand decreases whereas when price reduces dd rises ss: when ss rises the price rises and when ss decreases price also reduces. There is a positive relationship
Draw a demand curve graph
though price elasticity and elasticity are used interchangeably, the demand can respond to income changes and prices of related goods as well.
explain the difference between merit goods and public goods and show why it is possible for profit to be made in the supply of one of these types of good but not the other
Public goods are defined as products where, for any given output, consumption by additional consumers does not reduce the quantity consumed by existing consumers. Merit goods are, for example, education and to some extent the health-care. They are provided by state as "good for you".
The ladies are doing much better than the men
what happens when there is a shift in demand curve?
What is Specialization ? Explain in detail
any one ?
specialisation is a method of production whereby an entity focuses on the production of a limited scope of goods to gain a greater degree of efficiency.
It's ok
No. price elasticity of demand refers to the manna in which price of good demanded fluctuate mean while elasticity of demand explains the way consumer change in their willingness as they plan or purchase a good
diffirence between demand and supply
what is economic
Seray Reply
It is a social science which studies human behavior as a relationship between ends and scarce which have alternative uses
what is norminal wage
Demba Reply
is the wages measured in money as distinct from actual purchasing power
what is demand curve
Azeez Reply
this is a curve that slop downward from left to rich
different between capital and wealth
Samuel Reply
Wealth refers to the amount of asset you have, while, capital is the amount of cash money you have with you now and willing to invest in any business.
What is scale of reference?
Finda Reply
What is monopoly?
It is the control of market by single seller or producer
the exclusive possession or control of the supply or trade in a commodity or services
what is scarcity
Bonny Reply
scarcity means that the resources which we can produce goods and services relatives to wants for them.
what is demand
Sophia Reply
demand means that's good demand according to your needs is called demand
needs of people ar called demand
what's the difference between opportunity cost and production possibility curve?
apportunity cost means a goods which can be replace by other goods without any ease of saticfaction
different between capital and wealth
apportunity cost means the profit lose when one alternative is selected over other
what is economocs
Bonny Reply
Economics is a science which studies human behaviour as a relationship between ends and scarce means which have alternative uses.
It deals with making choices in the face of scarcity
what is perfect complements?
Bilal Reply
explain the return to scale with the help of mathematical expression
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difference between fixed policy and monetary policies
Doris Reply
Difference between extinct and extici spicies
Amanpreet Reply
While the American heart association suggests that meditation might be used in conjunction with more traditional treatments as a way to manage hypertension
Beverly Reply
in a comparison of the stages of meiosis to the stage of mitosis, which stages are unique to meiosis and which stages have the same event in botg meiosis and mitosis
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Source:  OpenStax, Circuits. OpenStax CNX. Oct 12, 2008 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10589/1.1
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