Experiments With Electricity

There are lots of cool experiments with electricity that you can do at home with your kids.

Experiments in electricity for kids including circuits, solar energy, creating batteries, and more.

Materials

To perform electricity experiments with kids from 1st through 8th grade you need these materials:

  • electrical wire: a couple of feet from your local hardware store or you can buy the type with alligator clips from a science supplier.  If you want enough for each child, you’ll need one set of alligator clips per kid or 1 foot of plain old wire per kid.
  • D batteries: one per child, at least
  • flashlight bulb: one per child
  • electrical tape: to hold the wire on to the other components
  • Multimeter: measures voltage and resistance, one to share.  For larger groups you’ll need several, one per four kids.
  • Electrode Set: conducts electricity, useful for passing electricity through liquids or for making the potato battery below.  One set per child.

Optional, but nice to have:

  • Battery holder: easy to attach the alligator clips, keeps things in order, looks cool.
  • Bulb holder: no tape required, feels more “professional”, keeps the bulb from rolling all over.
  • Friction Rod: used for static electricity projects, just rub it to make sparks in a dark room.
  • Solar cell: for experiments with solar electricity, charge a battery, make a bulb glow, check your power with a multimeter.
  • Knife Blade switch: connect it to your circuit to easily open and close the circuit (turn it off and on)

Experiments With Electricity To Try

Snap Circuits is our favorite electricity toy, hands down.

  • Create a circuit: learn what a circuit is and how to make one yourself (This should be the first lesson you do)
  • Conductors and Insulators: which materials conduct electricity and which do not?  (This should be the second lesson you do, after this, go ahead and pick and choose in any order)
  • Make a Potato Battery: Potatoes, lemons, and other organic matter have electricity stored, see how that works out here.
  • Static electricty, homemade battery, and an electromagnet: more stuff to do with electricity, requires pennies, balloons, foil, paper towels, and a large nail, plus more.
  • Solar energy: make a motor run off sunlight, experiment with different conditions.  You need a solar panel, an electric motor and some wire.
  • Build a small DC motor:  a kit to understand the principles of a basic electrical motor.
  • Orsted’s Experiment: recreate the experiment that discovered the connection between electricity and magnetism, requires the knife blade switch, a horseshoe magnet, and some household items.
  • Make your own flashlight: materials above, plus some household stuff.
  • How Electrodes and Electrolytes Affect Voltage: Sorta scientific in language, best for middle grades and up.  Bottom line is that different chemicals and metal make better conductors than others.
  • Build a solar powered toy car: you need some household stuff, a soldering iron, solder, and an electric motor, plus other stuff.  You can find many You Tube videos showing how to build a solar powered toy car as well.

If you haven't learned about circuits you might want to back up and try this circuit lesson first.

Creating a circuit – try this circuit lesson first.

Which materials conduct electricity and which do not?  An experiment on conductivity.

Which materials conduct electricity and which do not? An experiment on conductivity.

Here's how to do inexpensive photovoltaic cells to do experiments with solar energy.

Try some solar energy experiments.

Additional Layers

  • Electricity and magnetism are connected to one another.  Learn about magnets next.
  • Where does the electricity that powers your home come from?  Visit the plant that produces your juice.
  • Electricity can be dangerous.  Learn the safety measures for working with electricity around your home. What do you need to be careful of in the bathroom and kitchen?  What should you do before you dig in your yard?  What about overhead power lines?  What do you do if a power line comes down in a storm?  You may want to visit with someone from your power company who can explain the rules of electricity safety to you.
  • Learn about Hans Christian Orsted, the guy who discovered the connection between electricity and magnetic fields.

More From Layers of Learning

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Try this art project about Audubon and his birds.

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How to make homemade slime.

Extract DNA from peas with this simple experiment.

Extract DNA from peas with this simple experiment.

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