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Series and parallel circuit ideas

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Each year, our Boy Scout Troop volunteers at 3 Webelos events.  We have created "station kits", which we reuse.  Typically, groups of 12 Webelos will work with 2 Boy Scouts at each station for 18 minutes.  Our Troop has garnered a grand reputation for these stations as they are typically very interactive and very fun.  Station examples: Compass Challenge Course, Giant Jenga Battle, Nerf Shooting Gallery, Ham Radio, Human Solar System Model, and Mentos/Diet Soda.


Here is where I need some assistance.  One of our stations uses the LED Snap Circuit Kits to make series and parallel circuits.  We currently have 7 complete kits (the eighth one bit the dust).  We are about to buy another 10 kits.  But they are expensive ($17 each) and I think the Webelos look at them as being a toy.  Also, let's face it, LED circuits are a bit boring.  I don't feel this station is as memorable as our others.


So I was hoping to hear from the Scouter.com collective wisdom on ways to improve the station.  The idea is to improve fun, learning, and/or accomplishment.  Please think way outside of the box.  We are happy to invest funds on reusable items.


If you had $200 to invest, 12 Webelos, 2 scouts, 18 minutes (usually repeating 8 times per day), how would you do an interactive series and parallel circuit demonstration?


Scoutmaster Danny

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Assuming you have money trees around...


I would purchase an arduino (or raspberry pi 3) starter kit or two, buy some protoboards (connect components either parallel or series,) and extra parts kits (leds. jumpers, motors, buzzer, sensors, switches,..). Boy scouts would do the programming and Webs would wire protoboards accordingly.










Google and you will find tons of stuff.


This approach while expensive could be re-used for merit badge work and it draws in the techie parents.


Plan B: use the protoboards and components above but manually connect a battery to power circuits.


My $200,

Edited by RememberSchiff
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How about let them "see" V=IR. Voltage is how high water is in a bucket. R is how big a hole is in the bottom of the bucket (or the diameter of a tube sticking out of the bottom of the bucket that you can pinch). I is how fast the water comes out. Give them a stop watch and a cup and see how long it takes to fill up the cup given different sized tubes. Open up two tubes the same size and see if it fills the cup in half the time. Or use a bigger tube. Use a bucket with only 3" of water in it vs 3' of water. In parallel they could make an electrical circuit with a battery, a light bulb and a resister. The water bucket model isn't as simple as V=IR but close enough. And they get to play with water. A 50 gallon drum would make a good "battery."

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To build on MattR's idea, Put the Webelos in a fire line.  First exercise would be to move water from the "battery" using cups to fill a 1 gallon "bulb" on the other end (or have two lines filling two bulbs as a race).  Put 5 scouts in the circuit and one acting as the ground/return to get the cups back to the start.  Second exercise would be to use the two lines to fill a single bulb.  Simulate component failures by having one scout stop working for a short period of time.  Compare the time to fill in a serial configuration against the parallel configuration.  More of a high availability exercise than electrical but similar idea.  And they get to play with water.

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