Teaching Computational Thinking with Stories of Electricity

Once upon a volt...

Kids loves drama. Don’t fight it; embrace it. I recently developed this prototype project for elementary school students where they learn about electrical engineering through narrative. Using a fantastic kid-friendly circuit board called Snap Circuits, kids are encouraged to personify electricity and to embrace the journey it takes around the board. If you try it in your classroom, or riff ons other K-12 computers science ideas here, message me. I’d love to see.


Stories of Electricity


How electricity operates is an important part of computer science because computers, at their foundation, run on rapid pulses of electricity. The logic of electrical engineering is inseparable from the logic of computers. In this activity, students work with Snap Circuits in order to safely explore how electrical circuits operate. They will work independently and in groups to build circuits and to write “stories of electricity” that use descriptive narrative writing to explain just how electricity, like a character on an adventure, navigates the circuit, what it does at important junctions, and why.

Guiding Questions

  • Where does the electrical current start and end its journey?
  • What does the electricity do each time the circuit board pieces change color?  
  • When the circuit doesn’t work as expected, what are the possible reasons for that?
  • What “trouble” might electricity be running into?
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