Electric circuit steady hand game

Make a game that needs a steady hand - try not to light the bulb!
Science content
Physics: Energy forms, Conservation of Energy (1, 3, 4, 5)
Physics: Electricity, Electromagnetism (7)
Lessons activity is in
  • home-made wires from tin foil and masking tape, or any electrical wire
  • battery - I use AA size
  • light bulb e.g. from holiday light string
  • either: rigid, bendable wire (e.g. floral wire) and aluminum foil
  • or alternative (see first photo): 1 foot of copper wire (or use steel strapping) and brass wire, or other metal, twisted into a loop, the twisted end covered in foil
  • masking tape
  • mini binder clips

If using floral wire, fold one end into a triangle, to make a base to tape to a desk, then wrap it in a large piece of aluminum foil, then bend into a curvy shape. If using copper wire/steel strapping (first photo only) bend them into a curvy shape then attach one end to a desk or base.

Using tape or binder clips, attach the bulb then the battery (or the other way round), from the base of the curvy piece made above.
Then from the battery, add on a longer piece of wire (home-made or purchased), which can easily reach to the top end of the curvy piece.
To the end of this long wire, clip a loop of tin foil or metal.

Test the circuit - when the small metal loop touches the curvy piece the bulb should light. If it does not, redo the connections one by one and check each time for the bulb lighting.

To play the game:
Move the loop from the top of the curvy piece all the way down to its base without touching it. If you do touch it, you will close the circuit and the bulb will light. How far can you go without making the bulb turn on? If it is too easy, make the loop smaller, or the curvy piece more wiggly.

Grades taught
Gr K
Gr 1
Gr 2
Gr 3
Gr 4
Gr 5
Gr 6
Teaching site
Gordon Elementary Science Club
ingridscience afterschool
Tyee Elementary