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How Do Circuits Work?


How do circuits work? How do electric plugs work? Why do some things conduct electricity and some things do not?

How does a battery make a phone work? How do lights turn on? Where do electrons go when the electricity is off? How fast is electricity? How do light bulbs work? How does solar power work? How do electric cars work? Why is electricity dangerous?

Download learning guides: PDF | Google Slides | Transcript | Watch On Facebook Live

Electrical Engineer Paul Hines answers our questions for the second half of our electricity live call-in program. Hines is a professor at the University of Vermont and co-founder of Packetized Energy.


"How do circuits work" -Sammy, Manchester, VT

"A circuit is a circle of electricity. Electricity will only flow if there's a circle of some sort. Your battery is the part of a circle, you can only get the electricity out of a battery if you connect it in a circle," Hines said. "It's only when a circuit is closed, if you close a switch, it allows electricity to flow."

Plugs and light switches are simply ways to close a circuit. When the light switch is flipped, the circuit is closed and the lights will come on!

Melody is the Contributing Editor for But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids and the co-author of two But Why books with Jane Lindholm.
Jane Lindholm is the host, executive producer and creator of But Why: A Podcast For Curious Kids. In addition to her work on our international kids show, she produces special projects for Vermont Public. Until March 2021, she was host and editor of the award-winning Vermont Public program Vermont Edition.
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