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20 JULY 2017

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to work with students to design a homework research project. This was one example:

Professor Newsy Wales said:

  "When a new house is built, all of the electricity (electrons, protons and stuff)
  is already in the wires.  Although an electric light goes on/off almost instantly
  when a switch is opened/closed, the electricity flows very slowly around the
  circuit (slower than a tortoise). All of the electricity is included with the
  copper wires inside the house, and this electricity never gets used up."

In response, this is the hypothesis that was formulated by the students:

  'That there is no electricity in the wire until the power company sends electricity
  over the wire to the house.'

As homework, students were asked to research and present evidence in support of their hypothesis at the start of the next lesson. Students were encouraged to collaborate and develop strong, persuasive, evidence-based presentations.

Introduction To Electricity Misconceptions

Inspired by Dr Derek Muller's Veritasium Youtube channel, the Splice Savers! student video production team will interview exhibitors and visitors by asking engaging and challenging questions about simple scientific principles underlying each of the YCC exhibits.

This project builds on and extends the popular 'green room' project delivered during MAAS YCC 2016.

Our kids love to have fun and they conduct interviews in generally disarming, entertaining and inventive ways 4). Their productions are mature, scientifically and educationally authentic, and of broadcast quality.

Also, students will demonstrate and invite visitors to interact with BLOCKER! 5) - a classroom project developed wholly by students using a Raspberry Pi 6) to investigate the properties of materials by creating synthesised musical sequences and drawings on a web-based painting canvas.

Our student 'explainers' and video production team will engage with visitors to assist, and explain how they engage and learn with STEAM in the classroom. The BLOCKER! interactive provides another focal point for our video team to engage visitors in MAAS YCC 2017 event related interviews.


Students learn:

Curriculum Learning Activities
SCIENCE Identify scientific principles required to ask sensible questions
TECHNOLOGY Understand electricity, circuits and properties of materials
ART Create and explain an engaging, interactive multimedia/video experience
ENGINEERING Design, build and test interactive digital devices(s)
MATHEMATICS Record and analyse data as evidence to evaluate learning outcomes

Making A Documentary Video For Information Versus Education

You may not realise it, but even authors and makers of fictional stories often spend years on research before they write a book or start to shoot a movie or video.

For non fiction or documentary works, the amount of can vary.

How much research do you think is done for daily news stories that you see on TV?

  • Documentary videos can provide INFORMATION: The video is the medium where information is transferred from one person to another without necessarily affecting the minds of anyone. Often, the job of the video creator is to report information accurately, but without influencing the way people view that information. A good news reporter does not need to understand a lot about the what they are reporting.
  • Education videos are often designed to help people to improve their learning or understand a topic. One way to do this is simply find someone who is very good at explaining things, and then record them. Unfortunately, very few people can do this, and so our our education videos will focus on people who are NOT usually good at explaining things.
  • For our videos, we will need to first do some RESEARCH and design some questions that will help people explain and understand the topic better. We do not need to be experts. We just need to find two or three simple questions to ask, and then

Video 1: Education Videos - How To Start a YouTube Channel



The Scientific Method:

Scientific Method - A Flow Chart

The scientific method is one particular way to ask and answer scientific questions by making observations and doing experiments. Some people argue that there is no such thing as 'The Scientific Method' - make up your own mind:

The steps of the scientific method are to:

  • Ask a Question
  • Do Background Research
  • Construct a Hypothesis
  • Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  • Record your Observations in a Table of Results
  • Analyse the Data and Draw a Conclusion
  • Communicate Your Results

No matter what your method is, it is important for your experiment to be a fair test:

A fair test means that you should set up your experiment so that everything is fair.

  • You should only change one thing at a time, and note down the results.
  • If you change more than one thing at a time, you can not tell which thing (variable) it was that affected the results.


  1. What is the stuff that flows through a light bulb and comes back out again through the other wire?
  2. What is the stuff that flows into a light bulb and gets changed entirely into light and heat?

The answer to question #1 is ELECTRIC CHARGE. Charge is a “stuff” that flows through lightbulbs, and it flows around a circuit. Normally no charge is lost during the operation of a circuit, and no charge is gained. Also, charge flows very slowly, and it can even stop flowing and just sit there inside the wires. In an AC circuit, charge does not flow forwards at all, instead it sits in one place and wiggles forwards and back.

The answer to question #2 is ELECTRICAL ENERGY. It's also called “electromagnetic energy”. This energy is also like a “stuff” and it can flow from place to place. It always flows very fast; almost at the speed of light. It can be gained and lost from circuits, such as when a light bulb changes the flow of electrical energy into a flow of light and heat.



Not exactly. The scientist's definition of the word “conductor” is different than the one above, and the one above has problems. For example, a vacuum offers no barrier to flows of electric charges. If conductors allow charges to pass, then a vacuum should be a perfect conductor. Yet, vacuum is an insulator. Vacuum is nothing, so how can it act as a barrier to electric current?

Also, there's a similar problem with electric currents in air: electric charges placed into the air can easily move along, yet air is an insulator. Or look at salt water versus oil. Oil is an insulator, while salt water is a conductor, yet neither liquid is able to halt the flow of any charges which are placed into it. How can we straighten out this paradox? Easy: remove the misconception. Instead, start using the proper definition of the word “conductor.”

  1. Incorrect definition: Conductor - a material which allows charges to pass through itself
  2. Better: Conductor - a material which can support an electric current
  3. Best: Conductor - a material which contains movable electric charges

Here's an analogy:

  • Conductor - like a pipe which is already full of water
  • Insulator - like an empty pipe: tilt it, and nothing flows downhill
  • Insulator - like a pipe with frozen liquid; a pipe plugged by ice


Wrong. When an electric company's distant generator lights up your lamps, the electric energy travels along the power lines at almost the speed of light. Most K-12 textbooks teach that the energy is trapped inside of electrons, and these electrons flow inside the wires. Doesn't this mean that electrical energy flows INSIDE the metal wires?

Nope, since electrical energy is not trapped inside electrons. Instead the energy is made of invisible magnetic fields and electric fields which surround the electrons, and these fields surround the wires.

Electrons don't flow fast like the energy does, instead they ooze along slowly to produce an electric current. But how can electrons flow slowly if the energy flows fast? It's because the energy can leap from electron to electron. Indeed, the energy is connected to a whole vast population of electrons in the wire, and it isn't attached to any single one.

In a simple circuit, where does the energy flow? Here are some diagrams

Most of the standard physics text books that we all know and either love or hate have some serious deficiencies. My particular beef here is that, by trying to oversimplify some basic physics, those books introduce or encourage some serious misconceptions and tell stories that are hard to believe. For this discussion I have chosen the topic of simple circuits as exemplified by a battery and a small torch globe - For teachers: http://science.uniserve.edu.au/school/curric/stage6/phys/stw2002/sefton.pdf


Many text and syllabus writers like the motto “Keep it simple …”. Although that is an admirable aim it can conflict with scientific validity. Do we really want to teach stuff that is wrong just because it is simple? I don’t think so.

  1. What is electricity - is it the flow, or is it the electrons and protons themselves? The “quantity of electricity” means the same as “quantity of charge.” In other words, electric charge is a charge of electricity. Each proton carries a small bit of electricity, as does each electron.

A Quick Introduction To Switches

Video 2: Introduction to switches (currents & fields)

  • What are some examples of switches?
  • What kinds of things can we do with switches?
  • Can switches be used to store information?
  • Are computers more complicated than switches?
  • Advanced (very) capacitive switches (how these touch switches work)

Electricity, Circuits & Switches - Your First Mission

Circuit Build your a roller coaster ball circuit powered by a single gear box. When built correctly, the unique design and arrangement allows the ball to circulate around the track.

Students will divide into teams:

  1. Build team will construct the circuit
  2. Switch teams will design and build switches to activate the circuit in creative ways
  3. Video teams will create documentary video of how students go about their task
  4. Interview team will invent questions about electricity that can be explained using the roller coaster.

Tronex Piano Lab

Switches Your first mission will be to build some simple circuits and switches using torches, cardboard and aluminium foil.

  1. The electric piano can be used to investigate/test ideas about switches and circuits
  2. What are the processes that each team will need to do (plan)?
  3. How will we measure the learning outcomes for each task?

Getting started - A classroom activity

Classroom activity - Build an electric circuit


Can You Use Gravity to Generate Electricity?

Video 4: Electricity Generator (using gravity)


In the video, Destin (the name of the man making the video), said that a motor and a generator are 'the same thing'. What did he mean?

Some people think that Mrs Evans says Gravity does not exist

Capacitive Touch Sensor

Touch sensor Capacitive touch sensors provide a way for any conductive material/object (including potatoes, apples, spoons, computer mouse pads and mobile phone screens) to act as a switch. This is a great way to investigate the properties of materials as objects - see detailed explanation. Touch the pad to activate the sensor. When a capacitive load is detected (e.g. a person touches the sensor-pad area) the red LED lights up and the output pin goes high. This can be used to control lifts in buildings or jump to a new location in Minecraft.

Where have you seen touch switches used. What advantages (if any) do they offer?

The datasheet is here. A guard channel to help prevent false detection is available in both modes. This is fixed on key 0. The Guard channel keys should be more sensitive than the other keys (physically bigger). Because the guard channel key is physically bigger it becomes more susceptible to noise so it has a higher Averaging Factor.

A dielectric insulating material prevents flow of current but passes electromagnetic field lines!


Misconceptions explained:

Learn Concepts Correctly Now, Save Time Later

Video 3: Learning About Electricity At University Level (MIT)

Education Videos - About switches (and transistors)


Ignore these - they are too complicated for you!


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