Making Connections in Class 8 Science

Making Connections in Class 8 Science

“Let’s talk about energy!” said Upper School Science Teacher Mary Anne Mollica, kicking off a vigorous lesson on the ubiquitous and far-reaching phenomenon.

The Class 8 students in this introductory course listened attentively while their teacher described the way energy powers appliances and charges phones. She also touched on the familiar experience of static electricity, which can cause clothing to cling, balloons to stick to a wall, and tiny sparks to fly, especially during dry, cold weather.

In her explanation for what is required for electricity to function, Ms. Mollica named a power source (like batteries, solar panels, coal power plants or wind turbines); a conductor (like metal wires); a resistor (like a light bulb or a computer); and a closed loop. The students also learned that electric currents are transmitted through an electric circuit, which prepared them for the morning’s activity.

“Today we are going to practice building our own circuits,” Ms. Mollica said. To help these young scientists achieve success, she provided them with a diagram to follow, as well as the symbols commonly used to represent electrical components (for example, | for wire, / for switch, + for positive, and – for negative).

“In electricity and romantic comedies, opposites attract,” Ms. Mollica remarked with a smile.

To begin, she gave each team a Ziploc bag containing a solar panel, a breadboard, a collection of colorful wires and a mini-LED light. Their task? Figuring out how to turn the light on, a tricky endeavor that required a combination of skills.

Before the experiments got underway, the students were reminded to keep their solar panels face up to allow the overhead lights to charge them, and to put away any water bottles to prevent damage to the sensitive materials.

Soon, Room 810 hummed with productive chatter. Eager to solve the challenge, the girls carefully pressed the wires into tiny holes in the breadboard and the solar panel, but nothing happened at first. Determined, the groups discussed troubleshooting strategies including replacing the wires, tightening the connections and re-aligning the positive and negative ends. They tried again.

Ms. Mollica spent time at every table, guiding her students’ efforts. “You have to match the positive with the positive and the negative with the negative,” she told one trio, who made adjustments and continued. “This looks awesome,” she praised another group.

Suddenly, from a table in the back, a shriek rang out. “We did it!” a student exclaimed. Their teacher and some curious classmates hurried over to see for themselves that a bulb connected to a red wire was indeed illuminated.

In fast succession, the other teams prevailed. Cheers and claps echoed in the Science lab until Ms. Mollica’s instructions brought them back to earth. “Once you light up one, see if you can light up two.”

For the remainder of the period, the students connected as many circuits as time allowed, still beaming with pride when their bulbs clicked on. With two minutes remaining, they quickly cleaned up their stations and put away their notebooks and laptops.

Looking ahead, Class 8 will delve deeper into scientific methods and fundamental concepts through a hands-on investigation of non-renewable energy sources like oil, coal and natural gas. It promises to be equally energetic.