Currents, and Circuits, and Variables, Oh My!

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Currents, and Circuits, and Variables, Oh My!

Grade Level: 8
Subject: Physical Science
Sub-Subject: Electric Circuits, Scientific Method
Length/Duration: 1 90-100 minute period
Technologies Used: Electric Circuit Simulator, Online Graphing, Moodle
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Relationship to Theoretical/ Empirical Findings[edit]

1. Throughout the design of the electric circuit lesson, students discussed as a class, gave examples of why they thought what they thought to each other, then finally were prompted to be specific in their learning of how they knew what they knew; a moodle forum prompt. Just as stated in an article by King (1994), if students practice lesson-based questions as well as ones intended to access prior knowledge/experience and promote connections between the lesson and that knowledge, their growth is that much more acknowledged. When students are reminded and made aware of their prior knowledge after having a collected body of evidence, they will be more likely to retain the new information learned. Why? Because one who has been in an experience is more likely to remember an integration of a familiar concept once experienced by self and a newly generated experience constructed within the classroom.

King, A. (1994). Children How to Question and How to ExplainGuiding Knowledge Construction in the Classroom: Effects of Teaching Children How to Question and How to Explain . American Educational Research Journal, 31(2), 338-368.

2. Because students will go out of their way (ignoring, shutting down, distraction) to avoid a fact that contradicts their current "logical" ideas about how something works, the classroom needs to establish a culture where a student may be called out at any moment to counter attack an idea that is against their norm. Although this relies more on the extrinsic motivation side, it seems to hold true that knowing you'll eventually be in an instance of defending a position against someone else's arguments will help increase instrinsic motivation due to increased competencies of practicing defending against other positions.

McGuire, W. (1961). The Relative Efficacy of Various Types of Prior-Belief Defense in Producimmunity against Persuasion. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 62(2), 327-337.


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Purpose and Background of Lesson[edit]

Purpose: Students explore multiple variables of electric circuits to collect data/ observations of how electric current (mA) and connections within a circuit are affected by those variables. Students also evaluate their thinking and how it has changed from beginning to end of the electric circuit activities.

Background: Students have built basic series circuits, parallel circuits, tested conductors and nonconductors within those circuits, and have explained what evidence there is to support that an interaction has occurred within these various elements of electricity. All of this was done through an inquiry based lab by following curricular procedures. As with most science concepts, students were asked to make a hypothesis to the following scenario before they began the above experimental investigations: “If you had 2 light bulbs within the same circuit, and both bulbs were shining light, what would happen to one of the light bulbs if you removed one of the working light-bulbs?”

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Evaluate/ Elaborate/ Extensions and Links[edit]

Evaluate: Teacher comments on moodle forum posts. Checks for evidence and process of thinking.

Elaborate: Student write a conclusion and reflection to their electric circuit activities for Homework. May use forum post for scaffold.

Extensions and Links

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Engage/ Explore/ Explain[edit]

Engage: See background.

Explore: Part 1: Students collect further data on how the number of cells within a circuit affects the amount of electric current that flows though that circuit. Students use an online Simulator:[1] to run the experiment; students collect data by using an online ammeter attached to their circuits. The current (Ma) is measured for circuits using 1,2,3, then 4 cells incrementally.

Part 2: Student create a graph using an online program: Create a Graph [2]. They use their values obtained from the 4 different cells and current. Once the graph is complete they upload it to moodle [3].

Explain: Students evaluate their process and changes in their thinking on an online forum. The forum allows students to post their thoughts so that the teacher and all others within the class can observe their ideas and also may respond to their ideas. The prompt/ purpose of the forum post is: “Consider what you hypothesized as to what would happen to lights in a circuit if you took one out. Evaluate in detail ( 3 sentences minimum) how your thinking has changed now that you have evidence from our electric circuit lesson.” Students are required to look in their journals to find their observations/ evidence from today’s and the previous electric circuit interactions activities to make their evaluation credible and reflective as to what they thought at the beginning. Also, students are not required BUT were encouraged to reply to other student’s moodle [4] forum posts on whether they agreed or disagreed with the other students thinking; if they disagreed, they were asked to give evidence from their personal information to counterargue the other student’s ideas.