Conductors and Insulators

Contributor: Meghan Vestal. Lesson ID: 11003

Conductors aren't just on trains; they're in wires and maybe your pocket! Online lessons, games, and safe experiments, teach you hair-raising truth about how things do and don't conduct electricity!

categories

Physics

subject
Science
learning style
Visual
personality style
Lion, Beaver
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

Audio:

What caused this person's hair to stand on end? Let's find out!

Everything around you, even invisible gasses, fall into one of two categories: conductors or insulators.

Conductors are materials that transfer electricity because they allow electrons to freely flow. Can you think of any examples of electrical conductors?

Most people are aware that most types of metal are conductors. But there are a lot of other things besides metal that will conduct electricity.

Have your ever felt a shock when you plugged something into an outlet, or when you touched something metal? That shock is an electrical current, and you feel it because you are a conductor. Other types of conductors include water, carbon, and mercury.

Insulators are the opposite of conductors. Insulators do not transfer electricity because they do not allow electrons to freely flow. What are some examples of insulators?

Have you ever heard someone say the best place to be during a lighting storm is in a car? The reason some people say this is because tires are made of rubber. Rubber is an insulator. Therefore, you cannot get electrocuted during a lighting storm if you are inside a car because the rubber tires will prevent the electrical current from continuing to flow into the car. Other types of insulators include wood, cotton, and plastic.

To learn more about how conductors and insulators work, read The Physics Classroom's lesson entitled Conductors and Insulators. Why do some materials allow electrical currents to freely flow while others do not? Explain your answer to a teacher or parent.

With your parent or teacher, examine the room you are sitting in. What items are conductors? What items are insulators? Look at the image at the beginning of this lesson. What is causing the person's hair to stand?

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