Are your students interested in how their electronic devices work? If so, they may be future electrical engineers.
Electrical engineers essentially make various items with electricity. They study how electricity works and create new ways of harnessing this power. They are responsible for designing valuable devices and appliances, from cell phones to alarm systems. An electrical engineer also probably designed the electric breaker in your home.
If you want to harness your students' budding interest in this exciting field, or simply get them more excited about science, there are several projects you can assign them. Here are some fun electrical engineering activities for kids.
This is a quick way to demonstrate the negative charge within electrons. Just have a student rub a plastic comb through wool or hair. This moves some of the charged electrons onto the comb. Then have the student hold the comb near running water. The positive charge of the water attracts to the negative charge of the comb, causing the water to bend in the direction of the comb.
You can then have all your students repeat the experiment with pieces of tissue instead of water. The tissue should jump off the floor or table and toward the comb.
Separating Salt and Pepper
This is a similar experiment that also demonstrates how pepper is lighter than salt. Have students rub their combs against wool or hair again. This time, each student should hold his charged comb over a bowl filled with salt and pepper. The salt will remain in place, but the pepper will jump onto the combs.
Kids love robots. They are cool and functional. They can even be kind of cute. Best of all, they are relatively inexpensive to make in the classroom.
A wobblebot is a great robot for beginners. Technically, this creation is not a robot since it does not make decisions. However, it is great for teaching the basics of robotics.
Students should start by cutting a piece of wire that is a few inches long. They can then use wire strippers to remove the outer layer of the wire. Next, they should bend one end of the wire around an inexpensive motor, and the other end around a single pole single throw switch.
The students should repeat the same steps, this time using a wire connected to a battery pack. Then they can give the robot a personality. Have them cut off the eraser end of a pencil and push the eraser into the motor. They should next hot glue the motor onto an old compact disc so that the eraser sticks out of the CD hole.
Students should then tape the battery pack to the motor and the CD. To finish the project, they can take a dome lid over the motor and glue on some googly eyes. The finished product should wobble around on the floor.
Electromagnets are a key part of electrical engineering. These magnets require electric currents to function properly. Students can learn about electromagnets by making some of their own. Just have them wrap a copper wire around a large nail. They should then use alligator clips to attach each end of the wire to a 6V battery. The nail will become a magnet. The nail's magnetic strength changes based on the number of times the wire is wrapped around it.
Powering Electronics With Fruits and Veggies
The combination of water, ascorbic acid, and citric acid in some products acts as conductor. They can even power some small electronic devices. Potatoes, in particular, can act as batteries. Other conductive fruits and vegetables include oranges, limes, apples, lemons, tomatoes and onions. Have students create their own circuits using these foods.
By getting students interested in electrical engineering at an early age, you can set them up for a rewarding career. You could even end up teaching the next Steve Wozniak.