Turning on a lamp or flipping a light switch is probably something you do daily without even thinking. Devices such as lights and radios have electrical parts inside of them that allow them to work. These parts have to be put together so they make a complete electric circuit. Without an electric circuit, electricity can't get where it needs to go.
Electronic circuits are simply pathways that transmit electric current, or moving electricity. These circuits make it possible for lights and appliances to work. Electric circuits have to have a source of power, wires that the electricity flows through, and a device that uses the electricity. These three parts have to be connected directly for the electric current to flow.
When you're powering something small, you might use a battery as the source of electricity for an electric circuit. The wires that carry the electricity are usually made out of metal and covered in a plastic coating. Metal conducts electricity well, and the plastic coating around the metal wiring doesn't: It insulates the electricity so it stays in the wire and won't hurt anyone or cause a fire. Electric circuits also have switches, which make it possible to control the flow of electricity through the circuit. Flipping a switch to the "on" position makes the electricity flow to the device. Flipping a switch to the "off" position breaks the circuit and stops the flow of electricity.
A series circuit has all of the parts of the circuit connected to form a loop. Electricity flows through one part to the next part down the circuit. If one part of the series circuit stops working, the entire circuit stops working.
A parallel circuit has different pathways within the circuit. The electricity divides as it moves through the circuit, with only part of it flowing along any of the paths. You can switch on or off the separate pathways without cutting off electricity to everything. An example of a parallel circuit would be a room full of lights: You don't have to have every light in the room turned on for one of them to work.
A series-parallel circuit is a circuit with both series-connected and parallel-connected parts in the same circuit. To work with this type of circuit, you need to know which parts are series-connected and which are parallel-connected. Then, you can adjust the different parts to make the circuit work the way you want it to work.
A closed circuit is a circuit with all of the connections made so the electricity can flow. If the circuit is broken, the flow of electricity stops at that point. The circuit is no longer closed; it's an open circuit. Short circuits have a direct connection between two points, but these two points are not supposed to be connected to each other. Electricity will always take the shortest and easiest path, so when there's a short circuit, the electricity bypasses the path it's supposed to take and travels through the most direct connection.
Electricity is measured in watts. A single watt is a tiny amount of power, so the amount of power used by very small devices is usually measured in watts. The amount of power used by larger devices is usually measured in kilowatts, with one kilowatt being equal to 1,000 watts. The large amounts of power created by power plants are measured in even bigger units like megawatts and gigawatts.
- Electronic Circuit: Learn about electronic circuits by reading through this illustrated page.
- Physics for Kids: Electronic Circuits: Electronic devices have complicated electronic circuits inside them that make them able to function.
- Circuit Construction Kit: This activity lets you experiment with different components to create a mock circuit online.
- Circuit Game: Play a circuit game by filling in the squares with power, then click on a circle to light up your connected wires.
- Learning Circuits: Select a character and then choose a tutorial to learn all about electrical circuits.
- The Blobz Guide to Electric Circuits: Navigate your way through the Blobz guide to electric circuits to see how much you know.
- Find Out About Circuits: Electricity needs a complete path to flow through that includes an electricity source and conductors.
- 35+ Best School Project Ideas for Kids: Explore these electronics projects that are designed for kids to complete to learn about electronics.
- Seven Exciting Electric Circuit Projects for Kids: Expand your understanding of electric circuits by completing fun and simple circuit projects at home.
- Parallel DC Circuits Practice Worksheet With Answers: This worksheet tests your knowledge about parallel DC circuits.
- Electrical Fundamentals: Electricity is just the flow of electrical current, which might be either DC or AC.
- Understanding Your Circuit: A circuit needs a power source, connected conductive material, and a device that is powered by the power source.
- Completing the Circuit: Watch the video and follow the steps to create your own circuit at home.
- Electric Circuits: Making your own simple circuit with a battery and a light bulb will help you learn how circuits operate.
- Build a Circuit: Read through the background information presented on this page and then try to build your own circuit.
- Circuits: After learning the basics about electricity and electric circuits, you'll be ready to act out an electric circuit as presented in this lesson.
- Electric Circuits: Build a model of an electric circuit so you can see electricity in motion.
- Kids' Experiments With Electrical Circuits: Choose a few experiments and learn all about electricity.
- Circuit Science Projects: Building a circuit doesn't have to be complicated. You can do it with just a small light bulb, batteries, alligator clip wires, and a few other items.
- Circuit Workbench: Construct a circuit board so you can see electrical circuits in action.
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