Control the Flow

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In this activity about electricity, learners build and test a paper clip switch to turn on a light bulb. This activity introduces learners to open and closed switches and how electricity flows through conductive materials.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$10 - $20 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 11

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Wire strippers
  • 6 rolls of transparent tape
  • Brass paper fasteners
  • Metal paper clips
  • Pieces of 8-10 inch insulated, solid core, 20, 22 or 24 gauge wire
  • 2 inch by 2 inch pieces of cardboard
  • D-cell batteries
  • Battery holders
  • 1.5 volt light bulbs
  • Pencils


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Circuits
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations
  • The Nature of Technology
    • The Design Process

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


Includes alignment to state and/or national standards:

This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



  • All rights reserved, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, 2002