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Make a Simple Electric Circuit

Make a Simple Electric Circuit

Introduction: (Initial Observation)

Discovering electricity was a great step for mankind. But learning to control it was an even bigger step! For this project, you’ll build a switch that allows you to control the flow of electricity—then you can use the switch in the experiments.

Picture in the right is from the battery life test kit of MiniScience.com.

This project guide contains information that you need in order to start your project. If you have any questions or need more support about this project, click on the “Ask Question” button on the top of this page to send me a message.

If you are new in doing science project, click on “How to Start” in the main page. There you will find helpful links that describe different types of science projects, scientific method, variables, hypothesis, graph, abstract and all other general basics that you need to know.

Project advisor

Information Gathering:

Find out about electricity and how it moves through conductive material. Read books, magazines or ask professionals who might know in order to learn about simple electric circuits. Keep track of where you got your information from.
Save your life:

Imagine you are in a dark cave and you just lost your flashlight. Fortunately you do have a few spare light bulbs and a few spare batteries in your pockets. Can you use those and possibly one other metal object such as a spoon to light up a light bulb?

Each battery has two poles; each light bulb has two contacts. To light up a bulb you just need to connect the two poles of the battery to the two contacts of the light bulb using any conductive material. Conductive material such as metal forks, spoons, knives, wires, foils can easily be found.
The picture on the right shows how you can use one piece of wire and a battery to light up a light bulb.

Remove the insulation from about 2 inches of each end of the wire; wrap one end over the screw contact of the light bulb and connect the other end to the bottom of the battery. Now place the light bulb over the battery in a way that the bottom contact of the light bulb will touch the top pole of the battery (positive pole). Your light bulb should be lit now.
Can you use other conductive objects instead of the wire to do the same?

Question/ Purpose:

What do you want to find out? Write a statement that describes what you want to do. Use your observations and questions to write the statement.

The purpose of this project is to construct a simple electrical circuit to demonstrate that a circuit must have a complete path of conductive materials from one terminal of the power source through a load and back to the other terminal of the power source.

Following is a very important question related to this project.:

What household materials are conductive?

Identify Variables:

When you think you know what variables may be involved, think about ways to change one at a time. If you change more than one at a time, you will not know what variable is causing your observation. Sometimes variables are linked and work together to cause something. At first, try to choose variables that you think act independently of each other.

The status of a circuit (open or closed) is our independent variable. The flow of electricity that may light up a light bulb or activate any other electrical device is a dependent variable.

This means that the flow of electricity depends on the circuit open/ close status.


Based on your gathered information, make an educated guess about what types of things affect the system you are working with. Identifying variables is necessary before you can make a hypothesis.

My hypothesis is that there will be no flow of electricity when the circuit is open. We need to use wires to close a circuit so the flow of electricity from battery to light bulb and back to the battery can light up the light bulb. Since coin is a metal and metals conduct electricity, we can close a circuit using a coin.

Experiment Design:

Design an experiment to test each hypothesis. Make a step-by-step list of what you will do to answer each question. This list is called an experimental procedure. For an experiment to give answers you can trust, it must have a “control.” A control is an additional experimental trial or run. It is a separate experiment, done exactly like the others. The only difference is that no experimental variables are changed. A control is a neutral “reference point” for comparison that allows you to see what changing a variable does by comparing it to not changing anything. Dependable controls are sometimes very hard to develop. They can be the hardest part of a project. Without a control you cannot be sure that changing the variable causes your observations. A series of experiments that includes a control is called a “controlled experiment.”

Please Read Carefully!

All experiments use safe, low-voltage battery power. Household electrical current contains high voltage that could cause serious injury. Do not use household electrical current for any of these experiments.

Carefully follow wiring instructions for each experiment—improper wiring can result in battery leakage and/or rupture.

Do not take a battery apart—contact with internal battery material can cause injury.

Do not dispose battery in fire, recharge, put in backwards, mix with used or other battery types—may explode, leak and cause personal injury.

Making a Simple Electric Circuit

In this experiment you will make a Simple Electric Circuit. Please note that Simple does mean easy (in this context). It means an electric circuit with one battery, one lamp and one switch.


  1. Wood Board 12cm x 17cm (5″ x 7″)
  2. Single cell battery holder (MiniScience # MBH1D)
  3. Simple Switch (MiniScience # KSWITCH)
  4. Miniature lamp holder (MiniScience # MINIBASE, MINIBASEP, MINIBASEB)
  5. Miniature lamp 1.2-Volt (MiniScience # E0112)
  6. Small screws
  7. Connection Wires (Solid copper wires gage 20 up to 26 are recommended)


The picture bellow is from the Simple Electric Circuit kit of MiniScience.com.


1.Connect the battery holder, switch and the lamp holder to a piece of wood board using small screws.
2.Connect one wire from the battery holder to the lamp holder.
3.Connect one wire from the battery holder to the switch.
4.Connect one wire from the lamp holder to the switch.
5.Insert the battery in the battery holder.

6.Screw a lamp into the lamp holder.
7.Close the switch by lowering the lever. The light must turn on.
8.If the light does not work, check all the connections and try again.

Simple Electric Circuit using substitute materials

You may not have access to battery holders, lamp holders and switches. In that case you may still be able to make a simple electric circuit. In this method we use thumbtacks, paperclips, clothespin, rubber band to substitute conventional materials such as switch, battery holder and lamp holder.

  1. Wind a bare wire end around a thumbtack. Hook a paperclip around the tack and press it into a wood block. Energizer.com – Learning Center – Science Projects – Steps
  2. Wind the second bare wire end around another thumbtack and press it into the wood.
  3. This wire will connect to the “Power Pack” positive (+) lead wire.
  4. Place a third thumbtack in the middle of the wood block to hold your paper clip switch in place. Your switch is now completed.
  5. Place a third thumbtack in the middle of the wood block to hold your paper clip switch in place. Your switch is now completed.

Alternate: Insulated knife blade switches are available commercially. You may purchase and use one of these switches for your experiment.
Also insulated light bulb holders and small light bulbs are available commercially.

Build a Bulb Holder
5. Nail a clothespin to a wood block.

Energizer.com – Learning Center – Science Projects – Steps
6. Place a loose wire from switch (step #1) with a tack into the wood directly under the clothespin jaws.
7. Wrap one stripped end of the remaining unconnected wire around the bulb. Clamp it in the jaws of the clothespin with thumbtack below in order to make a complete circuit.
8. Tack the loose wire to the wood. This wire will connect to the “Power Pack” negative (-) lead wire.

Complete the Circuit
9. Take wire from step 3 and blend stripped end at right angle. Connect wire to positive (+) lead of the “Power Pack” with tape.

Energizer.com – Learning Center – Science Projects – Steps
10. Take wire from step 8 and bend stripped end at right angle. Connect write to negative (-) lead of “Power Pack” with tape.

When the circuit switch is open, the current does not flow to the bulb. With your finger, press down on the paper clip switch. You are closing and completing the circuit so the electricity can flow to the bulb.
The switch, bulb holder, and portable power are a complete circuit and arrangement of conductors; they allow the passage of electric current through the wire. Metal objects make the best conductors. Copper, brass, steel, or a strip of tin can have many free electrons capable of being moved along by an electromotive force such as voltage in the battery. In insulators, such as covering on the wire, electrons do not move easily, so you can work with electricity safely.

Conductivity Experiment


The simple electric circuit you have made can be used as a conductivity tester.


While the switch is open and the light bulb is off, place a coin between the switch contacts (thumbtack and paperclip). Does the light bulb turn on? If it does, the the coin is conductive.

Repeat this test with other household object such as nail, paper clip, metal spoon, plastic spoon, Popsicle stick, paper, aluminum foil and any other object you like to test.

Record your observations in a table like this:


Object/ material Conductor Insulator
US quarter


Metal spoon


Plastic spoon




Try to find about 10 or more objects that you can test them for conductivity.

Materials and Equipment:

This is a sample list of material:

  1. Wooden Base
  2. Miniature light bulb (1.2 volt, 2.5 volt, 5 volt)
  3. Miniature base (for light bulb)
  4. Insulated wire #23 (a few feet)
  5. Simple switch
  6. Battery holder
  7. Battery
  8. Screws

Electricity and Conductivity Science Set of MiniScience.com contains all the material listed above.

Completer list of material may vary depending on the experiments that you choose and the materials that are available to you.

Results of Experiment (Observation):

Experiments are often done in series. A series of experiments can be done by changing one variable a different amount each time. A series of experiments is made up of separate experimental “runs.” During each run you make a measurement of how much the variable affected the system under study. For each run, a different amount of change in the variable is used. This produces a different amount of response in the system. You measure this response, or record data, in a table for this purpose. This is considered “raw data” since it has not been processed or interpreted yet. When raw data gets processed mathematically, for example, it becomes results.


Write what did you learn from your experiments.

Summary of Results:

Summarize what happened. This can be in the form of a table of processed numerical data, or graphs. It could also be a written statement of what occurred during experiments.

It is from calculations using recorded data that tables and graphs are made. Studying tables and graphs, we can see trends that tell us how different variables cause our observations. Based on these trends, we can draw conclusions about the system under study. These conclusions help us confirm or deny our original hypothesis. Often, mathematical equations can be made from graphs. These equations allow us to predict how a change will affect the system without the need to do additional experiments. Advanced levels of experimental science rely heavily on graphical and mathematical analysis of data. At this level, science becomes even more interesting and powerful.


Using the trends in your experimental data and your experimental observations, try to answer your original questions. Is your hypothesis correct? Now is the time to pull together what happened, and assess the experiments you did.

Related Questions & Answers:

What you have learned may allow you to answer other questions. Many questions are related. Several new questions may have occurred to you while doing experiments. You may now be able to understand or verify things that you discovered when gathering information for the project. Questions lead to more questions, which lead to additional hypothesis that need to be tested.
Can you turn on a light bulb with just one wire?
Can you turn on a light bulb without a battery or any other electrical source?
Can you close a circuit using a coin?

Possible Errors:

If you did not observe anything different than what happened with your control, the variable you changed may not affect the system you are investigating. If you did not observe a consistent, reproducible trend in your series of experimental runs there may be experimental errors affecting your results. The first thing to check is how you are making your measurements. Is the measurement method questionable or unreliable? Maybe you are reading a scale incorrectly, or maybe the measuring instrument is working erratically.

If you determine that experimental errors are influencing your results, carefully rethink the design of your experiments. Review each step of the procedure to find sources of potential errors. If possible, have a scientist review the procedure with you. Sometimes the designer of an experiment can miss the obvious.


List of References


I was conducting an experiment to find out if I can get light from a grape or a fruit. I connected two D sized ever ready Battery together and used two alligator clips to connect the wire. I then connected the wire to the fruit and used the tester to see if it will light up but it did not light up. I disconnected the batteries form the fruit and added two more batteries together. I used the tester to test how powerful the four batteries were together and the tester lighted up for a while and then it blew. I then opened the tester and found out that the bulb inside the tester appeared to be the same as those of Christmas lights.
I will like to know why the tester did not light up when I had the batteries connected to the fruit.


I am not sure that I understood your question; so, I rephrase it and then answer.

You are using the battery as a source of electricity and using grape as a light bulb and you want to light up a grape. If this is what you are trying to do, it is impossible. Grape and other fruits cannot produce light.

Your project is making electricity from fruits. In other words you want to make a potato to work as a battery. So instead of using battery to light up a light bulb, you want to use a potato to light up a light bulb. This may be possible. I say maybe because if the amount of electricity that you produce is too low, it will not be enough to light up any light bulb.

In this case you may use a voltmeter to show that your fruit is actually producing some electricity.