Take, for example, putting together electricity kits. Recently the local dump provided colour-coded wires, hose for battery holders, small nuts and bolts, and a great string of Christmas stars that turned out to rotate through three colour changes – spectacular!
Andrew Hosking soldered various connectors and switches (from friends and purchased), and my brother Chris provided 24 small solar panels, enabling students to explore electrical energy resulting from chemical and solar energy sources. A wind-up torch demonstrated mechanical to electrical energy.
The culmination of our study was the putting together of a gifted electric car race circuit from the early 70s. It was a great way to learn how important contacts are when everyone has to pitch in to clean them and a real buzz when the new gifted slot car with front and rear lights zoomed around the bends, the occasional speed bump from warped pieces causing near disaster if it weren’t for students at the ready around the edges.
Investigating the basics of electricity followed on from studying energy and proved to be a big hit with everyone.
It wasn’t all just a matter of straightforward circuit connections either, figuring out how to wire solar panels in series to, first of all, get a reading on the volt meter and then, produce enough volts to make lights work was a somewhat frustrating challenge that ended up running a good ways into break time. I suggested the students take their break, but no one moved.
The concentrated determination that saw those lights shine in the end was the biggest kick for me!
- June Hosking