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  • Electricity & Magnetism Experiments
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  • 150 Science Experiments

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Balancing compass

Create a simple compass using 4 materials! Simple to make and easy for kids of all ages.

Paper ghosts rising towards a balloon

Rising ghosts halloween experiment

A halloween science experiment for kids! Make the ghosts rise with a little bit of static electricity... so easy to do! Find out more...

A stack of coins with paper inbetween them being held between a thumb and forefinger

The coin battery experiment

Coin battery experiment

Safe electrochemistry

A plastic comb bending a stream of water coming out of a kitchen tap

Bend water to your will

Did you know water carries charges?

A simple Homemade Lemon Battery - materials_ingredients needed

A Simple Lemon Battery

Turn your fruit into batteries!

Applied chemistry experiment

A coil of wire suspended over a D battery by two paperclips

Create a motor

Create a simple motor that works!

Its all about electromagnetism

Sticky static balloons science experiment - balloon stuck to a wall

Sticky Static Balloons

Very easy to setup

Positive & negative attract

static and can

Electrostatic Soda Can Attractor

An attractive experiment!

Static charge science project

Paperclips attracted to a homemade electromagnet

Make Your Own Electromagnet

Make a magnet easily

Home science experiment

Soda can attached to the styrofoam cup using insulation tape

Soda Can Electroscope

Determine charge polarity

Use with adult supervision

A needle on a piece of floating foam

Make A Simple Compass

Made from simple materials

Point out magnetic north

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16 Shockingly Fun Electricity Experiments and Activities for Kids

Play dough circuits, LED magic wands, and more!

Six Images of Electricity Experiments and Activities for Teachers

Electricity is all around us, so we tend to take it for granted. It’s a fascinating subject for kids, though, so they’ll love these electricity experiments and activities. You may need to invest in a few simple supplies for some of these activities, but you’ll be able to reuse them year after year. The hands-on experience kids get makes the extra effort worthwhile.

Just a heads up, WeAreTeachers may collect a share of sales from the links on this page. Thank you for your support!

1. Start with an anchor chart

Electricity Experiments Anchor Charts

Static electricity is most kids’ intro to this concept, and it leads nicely into electrical energy and circuitry. These colorful anchor charts help you teach both.

Learn more: What I Have Learned Teaching / Miller’s Science Space

2. Bend water with static electricity

physics experiments electricity

Most static electricity experiments are quick and easy enough for anyone to try at home. This is a great example: charge a comb by rubbing it against your head, then use it to “bend” a stream of water from a faucet.

Learn more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys and Girls

3. Separate salt and pepper with a “magic” spoon

Electricity Experiments Science Kiddo

This static electricity experiment works because pepper is lighter than salt, which makes it quicker to jump to the electrically charged plastic spoon. So cool!

Learn more: Science Kiddo

4. Move a bubble using a balloon

physics experiments electricity

Balloons are a fun way to teach about static electricity. Combine them with bubbles for a hands-on activity students will really love!

Learn more: Create Play Travel

5. Flap a butterfly’s wings

Electricity Experiments I Heart Crafty Things

Speaking of balloons, try using them to help a butterfly flap its tissue paper wings. Little ones’ faces light up when they see the butterfly come to life.

Learn more: I Heart Crafty Things

6. Make jumping goo with static electricity

Electricity Experiments Frugal Fun 4 Boys 2

Kick your static electricity experiments up a notch by mixing a batch of cornstarch “goo,” then making it “jump” towards a balloon. Amazing!

Learn more: Frugal Fun for Boys and Girls

7. Assemble circuits from play dough

Electricity Experiments Science Sparks

When you’re ready to explore electrical energy, start with play dough circuits. You’ll need a battery box and mini LED bulbs , both of which are inexpensive and available on Amazon. Mix up your own batches of insulating and conducting play dough using the info at the link.

Learn more: Science Sparks

8. Construct a classic potato clock

physics experiments electricity

Try a variety of fruits and vegetables (lemons are another popular choice) for these classic electricity experiments. Here’s the clock kit you’ll need.

Learn more: Kidz World

9. Find out if water conducts electricity

Electricity Experiments Rookie Parenting

We’re always telling kids to get out of the water at the first sign of a lightning storm, so use this demo to help them understand why. You’ll need alligator clip wires , mini LED bulbs , and button cell batteries .

Learn more: Rookie Parenting

10. Build a battery from pennies

physics experiments electricity

Light up a bulb without plugging something in or using a battery! Use alligator clip wires , mini LED bulbs , pennies, and aluminum foil to generate electricity instead.

Learn more: 123Homeschool4Me

11. Whip up wizard wands

Electricity Experiments Babble Dabble Do

Lumos! If your kids are fascinated by Harry Potter and the world of magic, they’ll love this electricity project that turns ordinary sticks into light-up wands! Learn how it’s done at the link.

Learn more: Babble Dabble Do

12. Play a DIY steady hand game

Electricity Experiments Left Brain Craft Brain

Electricity experiments like this one are perfect for exploring the idea of open and closed circuits. Plus, kids will have so much fun playing with them!

Learn more: Left Brain Craft Brain

13. Copper plate coins using electricity

physics experiments electricity

We all know electricity lights up a room, and powers phones, computers, and even cars. But what else can it do? This electroplating experiment is a real jaw-dropper. 

Learn more: KiwiCo Corner

14. Create an index card flashlight

Electricity Experiments Mystery Science

This DIY flashlight really turns on and off! It only takes index cards, aluminum foil, mini LED bulbs , and button cell batteries .

Learn more: Mystery Science

15. Twirl some homopolar dancers

physics experiments electricity

These sweet little twirling dancers are a fantastic demonstration of a homopolar motor. In addition to basic AA batteries, you’ll need neodymium magnets and copper wire .

16. Engineer an electromagnet

physics experiments electricity

Turn an ordinary nail into a magnet with battery and wire. That’s the magic of electromagnets!

Learn more: Steve Spangler Science

Love these electricity experiments and activities? Check out 50 Easy Science Experiments You Can Do With Stuff You Already Have .

Plus, Turn Muggles Into Wizards With Harry Potter Science Experiments .

16 Shockingly Fun Electricity Experiments and Activities for Kids

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Examples of games and activites to practice math facts including putting together plastic Easter egg halves and doing a number search.

43 Easy Math Facts Games and Activities To Make Practice Fun and Effective

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Displaying lines of electric flux

Displaying lines of electric flux

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Investigating the charge distribution on the surface of electrical conductors

Investigating the charge distribution on the surface of electrical conductors

Determining the capacitance of a sphere in free space

Determining the capacitance of a sphere in free space

Determining the capacitance of a plate capacitor - Measuring the charge with the electrometer amplifier

Determining the capacitance of a plate capacitor - Measuring the charge with the electrometer amplifier

Verifying Ohm’s law and measuring specific resistances

Verifying Ohm’s law and measuring specific resistances

Measuring current and voltage at resistors connected in parallel and in series

Measuring current and voltage at resistors connected in parallel and in series

The ammeter as an ohmic resistor in a circuit

The ammeter as an ohmic resistor in a circuit

Determining the Faraday constant

Determining the Faraday constant

Displaying lines of magnetic flux

Displaying lines of magnetic flux

Generating a voltage surge in a conductor loop with a moving permanent magnet

Generating a voltage surge in a conductor loop with a moving permanent magnet

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Electricity And Magnetism Science Experiments

Electricity and magnetism science experiments you can do at home! Click on the experiment image or the view experiment link below for each experiment on this page to see the materials needed and procedure. Have fun trying these experiments at home or use them for SCIENCE FAIR PROJECT IDEAS.

physics experiments electricity

Compass Challenge:

Explore Magnetism With This Cool Challenge

physics experiments electricity

Mystical Magnetic Field:

See Invisible Magnetic Fields

physics experiments electricity

Can You Trick A Vending Machine?:

physics experiments electricity

Magnetic Slime:

physics experiments electricity

Jumping Pepper:

Use Static Electricity To Make Pepper Pop

physics experiments electricity

Magic Bending Water:

physics experiments electricity

Make An Electromagnetic Train:

physics experiments electricity

Electrical Goo:

Use Static Electricity To Control Goo

physics experiments electricity

Looney Lodestone:

This Is One Crazy Naturally Magnetic Rock

physics experiments electricity

Easy DIY Electromagnet:

Make Your Very Own Electromagnet

physics experiments electricity

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physics experiments electricity

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25 Cool & Exciting Electricity Experiments For Kids

May 17, 2021 //  by  Sean Kivi

Electricity. It's something that is so vital, so essential to our lives that we rarely give it a second thought. It works because it just...does. You might find it difficult to explain to your stunts about the electrical process and how exactly electrons create power. If so, try some of these electricity experiments for kids below. They are sure to make things electrifying for your students!

1. Waterbending Static Electricity Experiment

This experiment is relatively simple and requires only a few household items to set up. You can use this fun science experiment to teach your kids about static electricity and electric charge.

Learn more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys

2. Make a Magic Wand

The most magical part of this battery science project is that you can use it to make science fun. Your kids will love using a coin battery to make a wizard wand. Take care, though, as this isn’t an experiment for kids that are very young.

Learn more: Babble Dabble Do

3. Index Card Flashlight

Use this simple circuit activity to teach your kids about building circuits and batteries. You can even try developing it for your more advanced students by discussing things like electrical charges.

Find out more: Mystery Science

4. Potato Clock

This awesome electricity science experiment would make a fun science fair project, too. It's a good tool for learning about batteries and the functions of electrical power in a way that is creative and engaging.

See it here: Kidz World

5. Bubble Balloons


Using this static electricity activity, your kids will move balloons with a balloon. A fun science project that requires very little set-up, so it's perfect for the classroom and at home!

Learn more: Create Play Travel

6. Soda Can Electroscope

You'll only need a few household materials for this fun science idea. It will keep your kids engaged and interesting by helping them learn all about the positive charge and negative charge.

Learn more: Fizzics Education

7. Create a Motor

This activity is an excellent way to combine engineering and science. Your students will make a simple motor in this experiment. It’s also a fantastic tool for learning about how magnets work.

8. Build a Power Pack

Explore the power of electricity and batteries with this hands-on activity students will be sure to enjoy. You can use this experiment to power some of the other experiments on this list.

Find out more: Energizer

9. Bottle Radio

This wonderful activity involves creating a crystal radio with just a glass bottle and a few other items. You can even use it once it’s completed, so it's great for learning basic concepts on the topic of electricity!

Check it out: Make Zine

10. Making a Dimmer Switch

Using a light circuit, your kids will create their own dimmer switch. Perfect for teaching about light bulbs, sources of power, and electrical currents in a hands-on way. Definitely not one of the activities for babies, though!

Watch it here: Science Buddies

11. Separate Salt & Pepper

Another static electricity project requires no more than some household materials. Younger grade level students will think it’s magic, but you can teach them about types of electricity instead

Find out more: Frugal Fun 4 Boys

12. Butterfly Experiment 


This balloon science experiment is great for combining art with science fun for preschool-aged children to elementary-age children. They'll simply love seeing the butterfly's wings move, and you can use it to teach the basics of electricity.

See it here: I Heart Crafty Things

13. Homopolar Motor

This simple motor experiment is simple to create and an excellent resource to learn about electric power using copper wire. You can also expand it to make a cool optical illusion.

Check it out: Frugal Fun 4 Boys

14. Build an Electromagnetic Train

This fun activity is not as difficult as it sounds! Electrical energy and neodymium magnets power this train, which you can use to learn about electrical currents and electrical charge.

15. Electric Cornstarch

A slightly different take on the usual static electricity experiment, this hands-on science experiment involves learning about positive and negative charges. You can also help students to learn about key concepts of electricity.

Check it out: Steve Spangler Science

16. Water & Electricity 

Have your students ever wondered why you shouldn’t touch a switch with wet hands? Use this experiment to teach them why with the conductor attributes of regular water molecules, from atom to atom.

Read more: Rookie Parenting

17. Steady Hand Game

Playing an educational and fun game is always a fantastic way to learn and this is certainly no different. Your students will learn about the concept of electricity and current electricity flow. It’s also useful for getting your kids involved in STEAM!

See it here: Left Brain Craft Brain

18. Tiny Dancers Homopolar Motor

This activity is an expanded version of classic electricity experiments like number 13. Your students will simply adore seeing the dancers move by neodymium magnet in this cool battery experiment!

Check it out: Babble Dabble Do

19. Simple Lemon Battery

This edible science experiment is an innovative take on teaching complete circuits. Try using different fruits and vegetables and compare their output. Make sure you assist in following directions with children that are younger.

20. Rising Ghosts Experiment

This is an excellent treat for Halloween! This can be used to learn about static charges and electrons with simple materials. You can make it an even more in-depth lesson by looking at concepts like the conduction of electricity.

Read more: Fizzics Education

21. Play Dough Circuits

Get some playdough and let your students craft it into whatever shape they please, then help to show them how it works to conduct electricity. They'll simply love creating this ingenious closed circuit!

See it here: Science Sparks

22. Copper Plate Coins

All you need for one of these exciting electricity experiments is a few household materials and a battery. Your students will be fascinated with the process of electrolysis and using a coin cell battery.

Check it out: Kiwi Co

23. Dirt Battery Experiment

Yes, you got that right - a battery-powered by dirt! This won't fulfill all of your students' electricity needs, but it sure is a fascinating way to teach them about how dirt can function as a conductor.

Learn more: Teach Beside Me

24. Rainbow Salt Circuit

You should be able to find everything at home already for this experiment. Your students will simply love seeing the array of colors of salt, using food coloring, and making a beautiful circuit.

Read more: Steam Powered Family

25. Homemade Wigglebot

Take a trip to the future by helping your kids create their very first "robot". It won't be able to complete any urgent tasks for you, but it will teach them about power and how electricity can be conducted through batteries.

Check it out: Research Parent

Each of these experiments provides an excellent way to get your students excited about and interested in electricity. They will be sure to enjoy using them to learn whilst having a wealth of fun, too.

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Table of contents.

  • Experiment 1 - Driven Harmonic Oscillator
  • Experiment 2 - Standing Waves
  • Experiment 3 - Electrostatics
  • Experiment 4 - Van de Graaff

Experiment 5 - Electrical Circuits

  • Experiment 6 - The Charge-to-Mass Ratio of the Electron

Click here for Experiment 5 - Electric Circuits

  • Computer and interface
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  • Pasco circuit board with two D-cells
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This experiment is an introduction to the wiring of simple electrical circuits, the use of ammeters and voltmeters, series and parallel circuits, and RC circuits. You have two lab sessions in which to complete the experiment, if necessary. The circuits will be wired up on the Pasco circuit board.

physics experiments electricity


In a metal conductor, each atom contributes one or two electrons that can move freely through the metal. An electric current in a wire represents a flow of these electrons. The flow is quite chaotic since the electrons have a large thermal component to their motion; they are always “jittering” around randomly. When a current flows, however, there is a general drift velocity of the electrons in one direction superimposed on the random motion.

The total charge (which is proportional to the number of electrons) that passes one point in the circuit per unit time is the current . Current is measured in units of coulombs per second, which is also known as amperes (with unit symbol A).

An electric field is needed to keep the electrons flowing in the metal (unless the metal is a superconductor). This field is normally provided by the chemical action of a cell or battery, or by a DC power supply. The electric field is the change in the voltage per unit distance. The unit of volt (V) is also energy per unit charge, or joules per coulomb. Voltage can be viewed as a pressure pushing the charges through the circuit, and current can be viewed as a measure of the charge that passes one point in the circuit per unit time.

Normal metals have a resistance to this flow of charges, and thus voltage is needed to maintain the current. It is found experimentally that for many materials over a wide range of conditions, the current is proportional to the voltage: \(i = kV\). The symbols \(i\) for current and \(V\) for voltage are standard notation. However, we can write \(k = 1/R\) and define a new quantity — the resistance \(R\) — measured in ohms (Ω). Ohm's Law, \(i = V/R\), is not a fundamental law of physics in the same manner as Coulomb's Law, but is found to be approximately true in many circumstances. We will test Ohm's Law below.

Oftentimes in circuits, we want to reduce or limit the current with resistors . A typical resistor is a small carbon cylinder with two wire leads. The cylinder is encircled with colored rings which code its value of resistance. Figure 8 below shows the color code.


A capacitor consists of two conductors separated by an insulator (e.g., two parallel metal plates separated by an air gap).

physics experiments electricity

It is found that when the two plates are connected to a source of DC voltage, the plates “charge up”, with one becoming negative and the other becoming positive. If the DC voltage is now disconnected, the charge remains on the plates, but drains off slowly through the air. If the plates are now shorted by a wire, the charge will neutralize — with a spark and a bang, if the stored energy is large. A capacitor therefore stores charge and energy. For a given voltage, the capacitor will store more charge if the area of the plates is larger and/or if the plates are positioned closer together.

The equation for the charge in a capacitor is \(Q = CV\): the stored charge \(Q\) is proportional to the voltage \(V\) and the capacitance \(C\). Capacitance is a quantity determined by the physical characteristics of the capacitor, the area and separation of the plates, and the type of insulator. Capacitance is measured in farads (with unit symbol F): a one-farad capacitor stores one coulomb of charge at a potential of one volt. The farad is a large unit; most capacitors used in electrical circuits have capacitances measured in millionths of a farad (microfarads, or µF), billionths of a farad (nanofarads, or nF), or even trillionths of a farad (picofarads, or pF).

The circuit below would permit charging of the capacitor C by the battery and discharging of the capacitor through the resistor R.

physics experiments electricity

Let us study the discharging process. When discharging through the resistor, the voltage across the capacitor is \(V = -iR\). (The negative sign indicates that the capacitor voltage is opposite the resistor voltage.) However,

\begin{eqnarray} i &=& \textrm{d}Q/\textrm{d}t = C\,\textrm{d}V/\textrm{d}t \hspace{15pt} \textrm{(from } Q = CV \textrm{),} \end{eqnarray}

\begin{eqnarray} V &=& -iR = -RC \textrm{d}V/\textrm{d}t, \end{eqnarray}

\begin{eqnarray} \textrm{d}V/V &=& -\textrm{d}t/RC. \end{eqnarray}

The equation above integrates to \(V = V_0 e^{-t/RC}\), where \(V_0\) is the voltage at \(t = 0\). The voltage on the discharging capacitor decreases exponentially with time, and its exponential slope is \(1/RC\). We will find the exponential slope for an \(RC\) circuit below by using the curve fitting features of Data Studio.

A multimeter is an important tool for anyone working with electrical circuits. A typical multimeter has different scales and ranges for voltage, current, and resistance. Some multimeters will also measure other quantities such as frequency and capacitance. In this experiment, we will be using the Fluke 8010A digital multimeter.

Take a moment to study this instrument. The green push-button power switch is at the lower right. The left-most button changes the measurements between AC and DC (alternating and direct current). This button should be out, as all of our measurements for this experiment are in DC.

To measure voltages, press the “V” button, and connect your test leads to the “common” and V/kΩ/S sockets. Push in a button for the appropriate scale: 2 V or 20 V in this experiment. To measure resistances, use the “kΩ” button and an appropriate scale. (Here kΩ represents thousands of ohms.)

You must be careful when measuring currents. Double-check your circuit when using the current meter. The meter must be hooked into the circuit so the current flows through the meter. The test leads are connected to the mA (milliampere) and common sockets. Before hooking the meter into the circuit, estimate first whether you expect the current to exceed 2 A. The meter has a 2-A fuse which will “blow” if this current is exceeded. All of our circuits below use smaller currents, provided they are wired correctly .


Connections are made on the circuit board by pushing a stripped wire or lead to a component into a spring. For maximum effect, the striped part of the wire should extend in such a way that it passes completely across the spring, making contact with the spring at four points. This extension produces the most secure electrical and mechanical connection.

physics experiments electricity

If the spring is too loose, press the coils firmly together to tighten it up. The coils of the spring should not be too tight, as this may result in the bending or breaking of the component leads when they are inserted or removed. If a spring is pushed over, light pressure will straighten it back up.


Use a vacant spring connection (such as one of the three around the transistor socket, as shown below) for a switch.

physics experiments electricity

Connect one lead from the battery to this spring, and take a third wire from the spring to the light. You can now switch the power “on” and “off” by connecting or disconnecting the third wire.

For each of the circuits below (except the first), discuss the circuit with you lab partner and agree upon a design. Then sketch the circuit neatly on a blank piece of paper using standard electrical symbols. Finally, hook up the circuit on the circuit board.

physics experiments electricity

To be checked off as completing this experiment, your TA will glance at all your circuits, notes, and data, and look closely at the graphs of circuits 7 and 8.


Plug a voltage sensor (just a pair of leads connected to a multi-pin socket) into the Science Workshop interface, turn on the interface and computer, call up Data Studio, and set up “Voltage Sensor” with a digits window on the computer screen. Adjust the digits window, if necessary, so you can read thousandths of a volt.

In certain applications below, it is useful to have an analog meter on the computer screen linked to the voltage sensor. This permits you to determine quickly whether a voltage is present and what its approximate size is.

physics experiments electricity

For certain measurements below, it is also useful to stick alligator clips onto the banana plug ends of the voltage sensor. You can clip the alligator jaws carefully to the spring connections.

Check the voltage of one D-cell with both the voltage sensor and the digital multimeter to make sure the readings are in reasonable agreement. Record these readings. (Label your notes and circuit diagrams with the circuit number, 1 in this case.)


Design a circuit that will light a single light bulb with a single D-cell through a switch. (See “Making a Switch” above.) Try out the circuit and check that it works.

Use the digital multimeter on a milliammeter scale, and wire it in series with the light bulb to measure the current flowing through the bulb. An ammeter must always be in series with the component whose current is being measured.

Connect the leads of the voltage sensor across the light bulb to measure its voltage. A voltmeter must always be in parallel with the component whose voltage is being measured.

Record the current and voltage of the bulb, compute its power \(P = Vi\) and resistance \(R = V/i\), and record \(P\) and \(R\) in your notes below the circuit diagram.


Rearrange your circuit so that you add a potentiometer in series with the light bulb whose current and voltage are still being measured. First, sketch the circuit in your notes. The potentiometer is the circular component with the screwdriver slot control (see Figure 1). Use the middle lead of the potentiometer and one of the end leads.

Experiment with controlling the brightness of the bulb while observing the ammeter and voltmeter readings. (No data need be taken.)


Design and wire up a circuit that will light all three bulbs in parallel. You may use one or both D-cells. Measure and record the battery voltage and the voltage across each bulb.

Measure and record the current to each bulb separately, as well as the total current output of the battery. (Although the bulbs are labeled identically as #14 bulbs, their electrical characteristics may vary up to 30%, owing to relatively large variations allowed by the manufacturer.) One consequence of Kirchhoff's Current Law is that the sum of the currents of several components in parallel must be equal to the total current. Compare the sum of the three individual currents with the total current. Enter the comparison clearly in your notes below the data and circuit for this part. Upon what fundamental law of physics is Kirchhoff's Current Law based?


Design and wire up a circuit that will light all three bulbs in series with both D-cells in series. Measure and record the current output of the battery. What would you expect to obtain if you measured the current to each bulb?

Measure and record the voltage across each bulb separately, as well as the total voltage of the battery. One consequence of Kirchhoff's Voltage Law is that the sum of the voltages of several components in series must be equal to the total voltage. Compare the sum of the three individual voltages with the total voltage. Enter the comparison clearly in your notes. Upon what fundamental law of physics is Kirchhoff's Voltage Law based?

For Circuit 4, you should have entered in your notes the measured individual currents to each bulb and the measured total battery current; and for Circuit 5, similar entries for the voltages. Your current comparison may show a difference of 10% or more. Some meters on the current setting have significant internal resistance of their own (partly because of the fuse), so they actually reduce the current to the component when wired into the circuit. On the voltage settings, however, the meters do not change the circuit voltages significantly when they are wired in, so your voltage comparison should agree quite closely.

Keep your parts in the order shown. After finishing the experiments, put all parts back in their proper slots.

physics experiments electricity


Devise a circuit that will light two bulbs at the same intensity, but a third bulb at a different intensity. Try it. If one lab partner has been doing all the wiring on the circuit board, change tasks now so that both partners gain experience in wiring a circuit. When successful, draw the circuit diagram in your notes. Indicate what happens when you unscrew each bulb, one at a time. Your TA will award the mill when he or she checks your notes at the end of the lab.


Choose one of the three resistors. Using the chart below, decode the values of the resistance and tolerance range of the resistor, and record them. Measure and record the resistance directly with your multimeter. Is the measured value within the tolerance range of the coded value?

physics experiments electricity

Wire up the voltage divider circuit shown below on your circuit board with your chosen resistor in position R.

physics experiments electricity

The element R is the resistor to be tested, the element mA is the multimeter on the milliampere scale, and the element ABC is the potentiometer, with B the middle connection (i.e., the sliding contact of the potentiometer). For the position of the potentiometer on your circuit board, see Figure 1. As you turn the potentiometer knob, the sliding contact B moves along the resistance of the potentiometer, allowing you to pick any voltage from zero to the full battery voltage \(V\). This circuit permits you vary the voltage to the chosen resistor with the potentiometer, and to measure the voltage and current to it. Does it make any difference if its resistance \(R\) is much larger or much smaller than that of the potentiometer? Your TA may award you a mill or two for a well-reasoned discussion of this point.

Set your computer to take data in a table of voltage from the voltage sensor while you input the current reading of the ammeter as a keyboard entry. Remember to make keyboard entries, click the “Sampling Options” tab, and check the box, “Keep data values only when commanded”. Take data every 0.5 V between 0 V and 3 V. Graph the data of \(V\) as a function of \(i\) in Data Studio, and obtain and record the slope. Compare the slope (\(R = V/i\)) with your previously measured value of \(R\). (You should have three entries of resistance compared in your notes: the “nominal” value read from the color code, the value measured by the multimeter, and the value determined from the slope of your graph.)


Use the color-code chart above to locate a 100-kΩ (100,000-ohm) resistor. Measure and record its resistance with the ohmmeter scale of the multimeter. Wire (all in series) a D-cell, a switch, the 100-kΩ resistor, and the 100-µF capacitor, as in Figure 10 below. Connect the leads of the voltage sensor across the capacitor. Call up a meter scale linked to the voltage sensor on the computer screen, and set its limits to ± 2 V. (Double-click on the meter to change its scale.) Use the “Sampling Options” tab to disengage the keyboard entry option from the previous run, if necessary.

physics experiments electricity

With the switch open, briefly short the terminals of the capacitor to drain any residual charge. (Touch the capacitor leads simultaneously with the two leads of a loose wire.)

Click “Start”, close the switch, and observe the charging of the capacitor on the screen meter. When the capacitor is charged up to nearly the full battery voltage, open the switch. The capacitor should remain at its present voltage, with a very slow drop over time. This indicates that the charge you placed on one of the capacitor plates has no way to move over and neutralize the opposite charge on the other plate.

Click “Stop”. Prepare the computer to take data in a table of voltage as a function of time. Double-click on the voltage sensor icon, and set the periodic sampling rate at 2 Hz. (The interface will then take a voltage reading every 0.5 second.) Close the switch, charge the capacitor to about 1.5 V, and switch the battery “off”. Click “Start”, and connect points A and C with a lead so the capacitor discharges through the resistor. Take data until the voltage of the capacitor drops below 0.05 V. Graph this data in Data Studio. There may be a short section of curve at the beginning, before you completed the \(RC\) circuit, where the charge is decreasing very slowly, and then a more rapid decrease as the capacitor discharges through the resistor.

We now want to determine the exponential slope of the curve: that is, to find the parameter “a” in a curve fit of \(e^{-at}\). Select the exponentially decreasing part of the curve on the graph. Use “Curve Fit” to fit a “natural exponent”. The inverse of the exponent “a” should be \(RC\).

Make sure your graph is titled and the axes are labeled. Beneath the graph, compare the experimentally determined value of \(\underline{RC}\) with that obtained from the product of the measured resistance and the nominal capacitance.

CIRCUIT 9: TRANSISTOR (additional credit up to 5 mills)

This is a complicated additional credit assignment. Get yourself checked off on the rest of the experiment before starting it.

Transistors were probably not covered in class, so here is a brief introduction. A junction transistor has three connections: emitter, base, and collector.

physics experiments electricity

Basically, a small current at the base controls a large current flowing in the emitter-collector circuit. For example, a small signal from a microphone input at the base can control a large current to a speaker. The transistor can therefore operate as an amplifier .

physics experiments electricity

You don't get something for nothing; the large working current in the collector circuit must be supplied by an external source (in this case, the battery). The circuit above is barely functional. Normally, there would be resistors in the circuit to set the operating voltages of the transistor, capacitors to isolate the DC of the battery, and so forth. A stereo amplifier would have many amplification stages, with feedback and other arrangements to ensure that the amplification is linear (i.e., that the output is a faithful copy of the input, only larger).

A transistor can also operate as a switch. A small current at the base can switch on or off a larger current flowing in the emitter-collector circuit. A computer has thousands, perhaps millions, of transistors printed microscopically small on tiny circuit boards enclosed in the “chips” performing this function.

In this additional credit assignment, we will study the amplification property of a transistor. (Refer to the instructions below and the diagram on the following page.)

Wire up the circuit of Figure 13 on your circuit board. Use \(R_1\) = 1000 Ω and \(R_2\) = 100 Ω. Be sure your transistor is oriented as shown in the picture and connected properly. Also, double check the battery polarities; the short bar in the battery symbol is the negative terminal. Transistors are easy to burn out.

Wire your multimeter on the millivolt scale to measure the voltage across \(R_1\), and the computer voltage sensor to measure the voltage across \(R_2\) on a digital scale to two places after the decimal (hundredths of a volt). By dividing these voltages by their respective resistances, you can determine the current flowing in the base circuit and the collector circuit.

Prepare a data table in your notes (or use Excel) with at least four columns and 20 rows. We will take data for \(V_{\textrm{AB}}\) and \(V_{\textrm{CD}}\), and compute their respective currents.

By adjusting the potentiometer, set \(V_{\textrm{AB}}\) to the readings below, and record the corresponding \(V_{\textrm{CD}}\) in the table: \(V_{\textrm{AB}}\) = 0, 0.002, 0.006, 0.010, 0.015, 0.020, 0.025, 0.030, 0.035, 0.040, 0.045, 0.050, 0.055, 0.060, 0.080, 0.100, 0.150, 0.200, 0.250 V.

Calculate the corresponding currents.

Plot a graph of the collector current as a function of the base current. If you find areas where more points are needed to fill out any curves or sudden changes, return to step 4 and make the appropriate measurements.

What is the general shape of the graph? Is there a straight-line region? Does it pass through the origin? Why or why not? Electronic engineers refer to the region of the curve where the collector current levels off as the transistor being saturated . At what current does this transistor saturate? What determines the saturation current?

The slope of the straight-line region is the current amplification of the transistor. Determine and record the current amplification.

physics experiments electricity

physics experiments electricity

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physics experiments electricity

16 Science Experiments to Teach About Electricity

Use these free STEM lessons and activities to teach about electricity, electrodes, electrolytes, current, batteries, generators, and more.

An electric play dough creation with many lit LEDs, a homemade electroscope in a jar, and a small breadboard with multiplet lit LEDs to represent collection of STEM lessons and activities to teach about electricity

We all interact with electricity dozens of times a day. Every time we flip a switch to turn on a light, we use electricity. Every time we check a cell phone, open a refrigerator, or turn on a computer or TV, we are using something that depends upon electricity in the background. We use electricity without necessarily thinking about where it comes from and how it is created. What is required to create electricity? What causes the static electricity that zaps us when we least expect it? What are charged particles? What is the difference between current and voltage ? What is a circuit? What are amperes, ohms, and volts? What do electrolyte solutions have to do with electricity? How do we measure electricity?

The free STEM lessons and activities below help educators teach students about electricity with hands-on exploration that creates observable and meaningful active learning. These resources have been grouped to cover teaching about static electricity , the flow of electricity , and generating electricity .

Note : Science Buddies Lesson Plans contain materials to support educators leading hands-on STEM learning with students. Lesson Plans offer NGSS alignment, contain background materials to boost teacher confidence, even in areas that may be new to them, and include supplemental resources like worksheets, videos, discussion questions, and assessment materials. Activities are simplified explorations that can be used in or out of the classroom. Student projects support students conducting independent science projects.

Lesson Plans and Activities to Teach About Electricity

Static electricity, 1. creating static electricity.

What happens when you rub a balloon against your hair or scuff your socks across the carpet? In the Rubbing Up Against Static Electricity project, students use balloons to see how static electricity builds up and how long it lasts. How will rubbing a balloon multiple times affect the static charge?

Girl rubbing a balloon on her head and hair standing up from static electricity.

2. Use an Electroscope

In the Measure Static Electricity With An Electroscope! activity, students learn more about static electricity and investigate using a simple homemade electroscope to detect electric charges. With the electroscope, students can observe how well different household items produce static electricity without getting zapped !

physics experiments electricity

3. Build an Electric Field Detector

Nobody likes getting zapped by the invisible electric fields created by static electricity! In the Avoid the Shock of Shocks! Build Your Own Super-sensitive Electric Field Detector project, students assemble a super-sensitive charge detector to investigate the invisible electric fields created by static electricity. When two materials are rubbed together, which item donates electrons and becomes positively charged? What does the triboelectric series have to do with what happens?

A battery and simple breadboard circuit that creates an electric field detector with an LED that goes off when an electric field is present

Note : In addition to a breadboard, this project uses a transistor and other specialty parts from the Electronic Sensors Kit .

The Flow of Electricity

4. conductors and insulators.

In the Which Materials Conduct Electricity? activity (and related Which Materials are the Best Conductors? project), students use parts from a flashlight (or other small device) and build a circuit they can use to test to see whether different materials are conductors or insulators . By putting a material into the circuit to close the circuit, students will be able to observe if the material conducts electricity based on whether or not the light in the circuit lights up. What will happen with aluminum foil compared to a wooden craft stick?

A simple circuit with a coin closing the connection, part of an activity to explore conductors and insulators

5. Pencil Resistors

In the Pencil Resistors project, students learn about the role of resistors in limiting the amount of electricity that flows through a circuit. Using pencils in varying sizes (and sharpened at both ends) as part of a battery-powered circuit, students can see how current changes with resistance by observing the brightness of a bulb powered by the circuit. In the How to Make a Dimmer Switch with a Pencil project, students continue the exploration of resistors by using a single pencil (whittled down to reveal the inner core) to make a variable resistor. In this circuit, a single pencil offers a range of resistance values and can work like a dimmer switch.

A circuit with a pencil sharpened at each end being used to explore resistance

Note : This project uses specialty materials available in the Basic Circuits Kit .

6. Electric Play Dough

In the Electric Play Dough lesson (or Electric Play Dough Project 1: Make Your Play Dough Light Up & Buzz! project), students use conductive dough and insulating dough to learn about circuits. With the two types of dough, they construct simple "squishy" circuits that light up an LED and see firsthand what happens when a circuit is open or closed . They can continue learning about circuits by exploring serial and parallel circuits in the Electric Play Dough Project 2: Rig Your Creations With Lots of Lights! project and then working with creative three-dimensional sculptures using the conductive and insulating doughs in the Electric Play Dough Project 3: Light Up Your Sculptures! project. This sequence of projects can be done using homemade conductive dough (or Play-Doh®) and insulating dough (or modeling clay) along with specialty materials in the Electric Play Dough Kit . For a short, informal exploration of electric play dough, see the Squishy Circuits: Light Up Your Play Doh® Creations! activity.

Circuit made from conductive dough with lit LEDs

7. Electric Paint

In the Electric Paint: Light Up Your Painting project, students get creative with electricity and use electric paint to make circuits. This exploration is similar in some ways to making paper circuits using copper tape, but with electric paint, the size of the paint strokes (length and/or width) will affect the resistance in the circuit. Can students use this information to light up a painting using batteries, LEDs, and electric paint?

A simple painting made with two lines of electric paint to form a circuit that will light an LED

Generating Electricity

8. a battery from coins.

Can you make a battery out of a stack of coins? In the Charge from Change: Make a Coin Battery activity, students make a homemade battery using construction paper, vinegar, salt and a handful of pennies and metal washers. They'll learn about electrodes and how electrolytes carry charged particles between metals. When the voltaic pile is complete, it can light an LED! For another exploration using a homemade voltaic pile, see A Battery That Makes Cents . In this project, students use a multimeter and experiment to find out how the number of coins relates to the amount of energy produced.

A stack of coins that are part of a homeade battery and an LED that is being lit by this voltaic pile

9. Veggie Power

Using fruits and veggies is a great way to explore battery science, but why do fruits and veggies work as part of an electricity-producing circuit? In the How to Turn a Potato Into a Battery project, students build batteries using potatoes (or try other fruits and vegetables) and investigate how much power can be generated and what limitations exist with this kind of alternative energy. In addition, students will explore how the voltage and current of potato batteries change depending on whether the batteries are connected in series or in parallel. (For a related activity, try the lemon battery activity .)

One potato with electrodes and a circuit with an LED

Note : This project uses the Veggie Power Battery Kit .

10. A Saltwater Battery

Not all batteries are created the same! In the How to Make a Battery with Metal, Air, and Saltwater chemistry project, students learn about metal-air batteries and make a zinc-air battery, also called a saltwater battery. This battery still uses electrodes and an electrolyte solution, so how does it differ from other types of batteries?

A saltwater zinc-air battery made from a jar, electrodes, and alligator clips

Note : This project uses electronics components available in the Veggie Power Battery Kit . Other required materials are listed separately on the Materials tab.

11. Shaking Up Energy

In the Human-Powered Energy project, students explore magnetic induction , the process in which the magnetic field of a magnet moved near a conductor creates a current in the conductor. A generator uses this principle to generate electricity. In the project, students build a small electrical generator with magnets and a wire coil that creates electricity when it is (vigorously!) shaken. In the project, students experiment to see what the relationship is between the number of magnets and the number of LEDs the generator can power.

Breadboard with multiple LEDs, part of a human-powered, shake it up, generator

Note : This project uses the Shaking Up Some Energy Kit .

12. Build a Generator

In the Shed Light on Electric Generators: Do More Coils Generate More Electricity? project, students build an electric generator and study how the number of coils affects the amount of electricity produced. They will also learn what alternating current (AC) is and see how the changing direction of the magnets works to create AC. The Power Move: Manipulating Magnets to Improve Generator Output project continues the exploration by investigating the orientation of the permanent magnets in the generator.

Homemade electric generator

Note : This project uses the Electric Motor Generator Kit .

13. Alternative Power with a Microbial Fuel Cell

Can you use mud to generate electricity? In the Turn Mud into Energy With a Microbial Fuel Cell project, students investigate this question and the potential for using microbial fuel cells as an alternative power source. (Note: There are several additional projects which further investigate the role of bacteria in fuel cells and explore other questions about microbial fuel cells, including the value of additives like salt or urine.

Microbial fuel cell sitting in grass next to a pile of dirt

Note : This project uses the Microbial Fuel Cell Kit .

14. Solar Power

In the How Does Solar Cell Output Vary with Incident Light Intensity? project, students experiment to discover the relationship between light intensity and power output from a solar cell.

Solar cell setup with overhead light

Electricity Tutorial

Tip! Google Classroom teachers can use the Google Classroom button to assign this resource to students.)

Teaching About Electricity in K-12

Educators teach about electricity throughout elementary, middle, and high school. Starting with early exploration of electric interactions , students build understanding of electricity as they learn about charged particles and static electricity, basic circuits, current, voltage, and resistance. With hands-on lessons and activities, students can learn about the flow of electricity, identify and observe the importance of conductors and insulators, review the triboelectric series, see the effect of resistance firsthand, explore Ohm's law, and interact with and measure differences between series and parallel circuits when powering a set of LEDs, for example. Simple homemade electroscopes can be used to reveal electric fields, and circuits can be constructed to further demonstrate the presence of invisible electric fields, and with multimeters, students can explore amperes, ohms, and volts.

To learn about creating electricity, students can build basic batteries by experimenting with different kinds of electrodes and electrolytes. From coin-powered voltaic pile batteries to experiments with fruit- and vegetable batteries, students can examine the chemical makeup of a battery. These explorations can be extended by studying generators, the role of electromagnetism, Faraday's law and magnetic induction, and alternative sources of electricity creation, including saltwater batteries, microbial fuel cells, ocean turbines, and solar power. These continued explorations are important in helping position learning about electricity in a real-world context as part of talking about sustainability, non-renewable resources, and alternative energy resources.

Note : There is crossover between teaching about electricity, circuits, magnetism, and electromagnetism. You can view teaching materials, experiments, and lessons for these topics in the following collections: 11 Lessons to Teach Magnetism 18 Science Lessons to Teach Circuits 8 Experiments to Teach Electromagnetism

The following word bank contains words that may be covered when teaching about electricity using the lessons and activities in this resource.

  • alternating current (AC)
  • Ampere, amp
  • charged particle
  • electric field
  • electricity
  • electrolyte solution
  • electromagnetism
  • Faraday's law
  • magnetic induction
  • microbial fuel cell
  • negatively charged
  • neutral charge equilibrium
  • non-renewable resources
  • oscillating turbine
  • positively charged
  • renewable energy
  • renewable resources
  • saltwater battery
  • solar energy (solar power)
  • static discharge
  • static electricity
  • sustainability
  • triboelectric
  • vegetable power
  • zinc-air battery

Thematic Collections

Collections like this help educators find themed activities in a specific subject area or discover activities and lessons that meet a curriculum need. We hope these collections make it convenient for teachers to browse related lessons and activities. For other collections, see the Teaching Science Units and Thematic Collections lists. We encourage you to browse the complete STEM Activities for Kids and Lesson Plans areas, too. Filters are available to help you narrow your search.


  • Teaching Science Units
  • Teacher Resources

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    Easy electricity science experiments to try with your kids! Always practice safety and don't try these without adult supervision!


    Low voltage power supply, rheostat, voltmeter, milliammeter, 330 Ω resistor, silicon diode, e.g. 1N4001. 330Ω. +. 9 V. -. V. mA. Procedure- Forward Bias.

  7. 16 Shockingly Fun Electricity Experiments and Activities for Kids

    1. Start with an anchor chart · 2. Bend water with static electricity · 3. Separate salt and pepper with a “magic” spoon · 4. Move a bubble using a

  8. Electricity

    Electricity · Displaying lines of electric flux · Investigating the charge distribution on the surface of electrical conductors · Determining the capacitance of

  9. Electricity And Magnetism Science Experiments

    Electricity and magnetism science experiments you can do at home! Click on the experiment image or the view experiment link below for each experiment on this

  10. Electricity and magnetism home experiments

    Welcome to IOPSpark - Unlimited Access to Over 2000 Physics Teaching Resources | Home-based teaching resources for 11-19 year olds | A collection of home

  11. 25 Cool & Exciting Electricity Experiments For Kids

    25 Cool & Exciting Electricity Experiments For Kids · 1. Waterbending Static Electricity Experiment · 2. Make a Magic Wand · 3. Index Card

  12. Static Electricity Experiments

    What you need: Balloon Plastic Pen Small scraps of paper (holes from a hole puncher work well) Try This: Rub your hair on a balloon or wool sweater.

  13. Experiment 5

    Experiment 6 - The Charge-to-Mass Ratio of the Electron. Experiment 5 - Electrical Circuits. Click here for Experiment 5 - Electric Circuits · ‹ Experiment 4

  14. 16 Science Experiments to Teach About Electricity

    Lesson Plans and Activities to Teach About Electricity · 1. Creating Static Electricity · 2. Use an Electroscope · 3. Build an Electric Field