Plasma_Materials.jpgI enjoy watching videos from the Slo-mo guys.  Recently I saw them show the creation and use of a Tiny Plasma Cutter. My science team and I spoke about how we might turn this “instructional video” into an inquiry activity for our students. We identified various materials students might use. Students explored how these materials created a closed electrical circuit and cut one of the types of foil. We answered questions as students worked on their creations. Some questions we did not know the answers to ourselves. We did not show students the video, instead we showed a video of a commercial plasma cutter. We then provided students a paperclip, staple, and pencil lead to use in their cutter. Students found different sized pencil leads they could also test. They also wondered how to connect more than one 9 volt battery together to provide a “more power.” I enjoyed seeing how the questions our students asked helped them learn about conductors, insulators, and parallel vs. series circuits based on their questions.

   

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Notice how well their battery operated plasma cutter works!


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  • How could this activity relate to ELA or math common core?
  • What other electricity concepts might students safely learn using inquiry?

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