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In this problem-based learning activity, students 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. This module provides instructor information for the activity.
This module provides instructor information for the Two Light Bulbs and A Battery: an Elementary Circuits Activity module .

Activity objectives

  • Students can create a simple electrical circuit.
  • Students can relate the schematic representation of the circuit to the real circuit.
  • Students can measure voltage.
  • Students recognize that series and parallel connections are different.
  • Address several common potential student misunderstandings:
    • Complete circuit
    • Light bulb contacts
    • Direct route
    • Resistive superposition

Background information

Engelhardt and Beichner have identified several common misconceptions that students may have when working with beginning electrical circuits concepts. These misconceptions include the following:

  • Battery superposition: 2 batteries cause a bulb to shine twice as bright as one battery regardless of arrangement.
  • Battery as a constant current source: battery supplies same amount of current to each circuit regardless of the circuit’s arrangement
  • Complete circuit: unable to identify a complete circuit—closed loop
  • Light bulb contacts: unable to identify the two contacts on the light bulb
  • Current consumed: current value decreases as you move through circuit elements until you return to the battery where there is no more current left.
  • Direct route: battery is the only source of charge so only those elements with a direct contact to the battery will light.
  • Local: Current splits evenly at every junction regardless of the resistance of each branch.
  • Resistive superposition: 2 resistors reduce the current by 2 relative to one resistor regardless of the resistors' arrangement.
  • Rule application error: misapplied a rule governing circuits; for example, used the equation for resistors in series when the circuit showed resistors in parallel
  • Sequential: only changes before an element will affect that element
  • I/R Term confusion: resistance viewed as being caused by the current; a resistor resists the current so a current must flow for there to be any resistance.
  • I/V Term confusion: voltage viewed as a property of current; current is the cause of the voltage; voltage and current always occur together.
  • Topology: all resistors lined up geometrically in series are in series whether there is a junction or not. All resistors lined up geometrically in parallel are in parallel even if a battery is contained within a branch.

Description of activity

Students work in teams. Each team receives a multimeter, two flashlight bulbs, a battery, and six pieces of wire. For the first part of the activity, each team is instructed to light the bulb using the battery and wire. This is followed by class instruction on measuring voltage using the multimeter. The teams work then to create circuits with two light bulbs.

Questions & Answers

What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
what school?
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
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Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
how to know photocatalytic properties of tio2 nanoparticles...what to do now
Akash Reply
it is a goid question and i want to know the answer as well
characteristics of micro business
for teaching engĺish at school how nano technology help us
Do somebody tell me a best nano engineering book for beginners?
s. Reply
there is no specific books for beginners but there is book called principle of nanotechnology
what is fullerene does it is used to make bukky balls
Devang Reply
are you nano engineer ?
fullerene is a bucky ball aka Carbon 60 molecule. It was name by the architect Fuller. He design the geodesic dome. it resembles a soccer ball.
what is the actual application of fullerenes nowadays?
That is a great question Damian. best way to answer that question is to Google it. there are hundreds of applications for buck minister fullerenes, from medical to aerospace. you can also find plenty of research papers that will give you great detail on the potential applications of fullerenes.
what is the Synthesis, properties,and applications of carbon nano chemistry
Abhijith Reply
Mostly, they use nano carbon for electronics and for materials to be strengthened.
is Bucky paper clear?
carbon nanotubes has various application in fuel cells membrane, current research on cancer drug,and in electronics MEMS and NEMS etc
so some one know about replacing silicon atom with phosphorous in semiconductors device?
s. Reply
Yeah, it is a pain to say the least. You basically have to heat the substarte up to around 1000 degrees celcius then pass phosphene gas over top of it, which is explosive and toxic by the way, under very low pressure.
Do you know which machine is used to that process?
how to fabricate graphene ink ?
for screen printed electrodes ?
What is lattice structure?
s. Reply
of graphene you mean?
or in general
in general
Graphene has a hexagonal structure
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what is biological synthesis of nanoparticles
Sanket Reply
what's the easiest and fastest way to the synthesize AgNP?
Damian Reply
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
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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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