Electricity: Harry Potter Type Wands

Students are introduced to a simple circuit and switch with a light bulb, similar to a Harry Potter type wand.

The intro has learning for Ontario for Grade 6 and 9. For Grade 6 it is a good curriculum fit but for Grade 9 it is more of a review of Grade 6 material so would be most appropriate at the beginning of the unit the teacher is teaching. The students make a Harry Potter type wand. It's a bit of an expensive activity and isn't suitable really for under Grade 6 as there are some tricky parts to ensure the wires are touching throughout and in our experience Grade 6s can do it but some will still need help. It is only meant to be for students learning in a classroom where materials are dropped off to the school as the parts would cost too much money for one student at home and might be too hard to find at local stores as well. 

What You Need

Materials per student

Note: This activity is not one that can be done easily at home due to the nature of the materials. It is recommended that this activity only be completed when materials are being dropped off at the school. 

  • 1 stick (long skewer with the sharp end cut off, or students can being in a stick from home)
  • 1 red and 1 black piece of wire about 6 inches long
  • Electrical tape (1 roll per 4-6 students or 1 each if the teacher cannot distribute pieces of tape
  • 1 light bulb (wrapped in bubble wrap or paper towel for safety)
  • 1 battery box with wires

Teacher: batteries (1 per student) - distribute these later. 

Tape, 4 extra wires, 4 extra light bulbs and 2 extra battery boxes.

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Safety Notes

As a Let’s Talk Science volunteer, safety must be foremost in our minds during all activities. As STEM role models, volunteers must always also model safe science practices.

Always keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Emphasize and demonstrate appropriate safety procedures throughout the presentation.
  • Be professional but have fun.
  • Keep workspaces clean to avoid tripping hazards.
  • Allergens should have been checked before reserving the kit (e.g. allergies to latex).
  • Activity Specific Safety: Instruct students not to eat the coin battery as it can cause serious damage or death. Also ask them to be sure not to put wires from one side of the coin battery to the other side without a light bulb in between the battery and the wire.

What To Do

Ask the teacher to distribute the materials for each student: 2 wires (one red and one black), a light bulb, a battery pack with two wires attached and a coin battery.

Remind students NOT to put the coin battery in their mouth.

  1. Using only the light and the coin battery, test the battery to see if it works. 
  2. If your light and battery work, place the coin battery to the side for now. 
  3. Take the red wire (not attached to the battery pack) and twist it around one of the metal ends of the light and secure the connection tightly with a piece of electrical tape. 
  4. Take the black wire (not attached to the battery pack) and twist it around the other metal end of the light and secure it tightly with a piece of electrical tape. 
  5. Test your connection again to be sure after you put the tape on, the wires are still touching each other. To do this, you need to make a closed circuit. Touch the wires attached to the light to the coin battery (one on each side). If the light doesn't light up, switch the wires around so they are on the opposite side. If the light still doesn't light, sometimes pressing on the tape where the connections are will fix problem and if so, add another piece of tape. 
  6. Place your coin battery in the battery pack. Now you want to test your battery pack to be sure the connections between the battery pack and the wires attached to it are secure. Touch the metal on the red wire attached to the light to the metal on red wire attached to the battery pack. Do the same with the black wires. Your light should light as you have once again made a closed circuit. However, if the switch is off, you have an open circuit and the light won’t light. So turn the switch on if it isn’t already. If it doesn’t light, be sure all connections are secure (e.g., the metal from the red wires is touching each other and the metal on the black wires are touching with each other). If your battery pack doesn’t work, your teacher has some extras.
  7. Place the light with the wires at the top of the stick and tape it to the top so the light is at the very end.
  8. Wrap the wires on the light around the stick a few times.
  9. Using the electrical tape, tape the battery pack onto the bottom of the stick and wrap the wires around the stick leaving a little of the wires sticking out of the tape.
  10. Wrap the two metal ends of the black wires around each other and tape securely to each other and to the stick. This is the trickiest part as the wires from the battery box do not wrap very well as they are super thin. You might have to just tape these two ends where the metal touches tightly together as wrapping them around each other is tricky but a tight piece of tape will hold them together. Tape them to the stick to give extra support.
  11. Wrap the two ends of the red wires around each other as above and tape securely to each other and to the stick.
  12. Check your connections again. Turn the switch on and your light should light. If it doesn’t check your connections again by pressing on the tape to see if that helps and if so add another piece of tape more tightly than the first one. If you cannot get it to light, remove the tape between the connections between the two wires and repeat step 10 and/or 11 again.
  13. Once your light is lighting, use the electrical tape and wind the tape all over the stick from the battery pack all the way to the light so your stick is completely covered with electrical tape. Remember to turn off the switch (open the circuit) each time you are done with your wand so your battery lasts longer.

Discovery

Investigate Further

If students are interested and time permits, you can discuss the different measurement terms used in electricity:

  • Volts
  • Amps
  • Ohms

For grade 9, you can add in Ohm's law, which is current is equal to the voltage divided by the resistance or I = V/R

Investigate Further

If students are interested and time permits, you can discuss the different measurement terms used in electricity:

  • Volts
  • Amps
  • Ohms

For grade 9, you can add in Ohm's law, which is current is equal to the voltage divided by the resistance or I = V/R

Resources

PowerPoint:

Guide:

 

Resources

PowerPoint:

Guide: