Conductors and Insulators

In the previous step, you probably noticed that the LED would only light up if you touched both legs to different spots on the battery, and only in a certain direction.

Mini Challenge Bridging the Gap

For this challenge, find a way to connect two ends of an LED using various objects of different properties.
LED Light
LED Light
Instructions:
  1. Gently bend the two connector leads ("legs") of the LED so that they are spaced apart.
  2. Without moving the legs from this position (no bending them back!), find a way to complete the connection and light the LED!
Show Next Hint
  1. Look around for an object you might use to complete the connection.
  2. Electricity needs to be able to flow through the object so that the circuit can be complete.
  3. Metal objects are generally good at letting electricity go through them.
When you're done:
  • Log entry 1.2.1: What kinds of objects got the LED to light up again? What did these objects seem to have in common?
  • Log entry 1.2.2: What kinds of objects did not work? What did these objects seem to have in common?
  • Consider: Would the LED light up in these arrangements?

Explanation

Some materials let electricity pass through them, and can be used as part of the circuit. Metals in particular are good at this. These materials are called conductors.

A circuit that forms a complete path for electricity to flow is called a closed circuit. If there is not a continuous path for electricity to travel through, the arrangement is called an open circuit. If there is an obvious gap in the circuit that breaks the path, it is sometimes simply called an "open".

Open Circuit
Open Circuit