Fork in the Road

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In this activity about electricity, learners identify parallel and series circuits. First, learners examine and label diagrams of complete circuits. Then, learners build each of the circuits shown in the diagrams using electrical supplies. Throughout the activity, learners predict and then test how the number of branches and circuit type affect the light (does it turn on?).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
5 to 10 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 8 - 14

Resource Types:
Activity, Lesson/Lesson Plan


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Wire strippers
  • 8-10 inch insulated, solid core, 20, 22, or 24 gauge wire
  • D-cell batteries
  • D-cell battery holders
  • 1.5 volt light bulbs
  • Parallel or Series Circuit Worksheets
  • Pencils


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Electrical Engineering
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Circuits

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves teamwork and communication skills
  • 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