option allows students to build a robot out of a 3-½ inch
floppy disk drive, two floppy disks, and some other
miscellaneous supplies. The website referenced
above provides detailed steps on the procedure for doing
this. The floppy drives can be found on-line for about
$5 a piece. If you choose to do this project, ask students
or co-workers to save old, unwanted floppy disks (like
the ones you get in the mail). One or two robots could
be built by the whole class. (Consider having assigned
roles to ensure that each student participates. If you
are working on only one for a whole class, small groups
of students could be responsible for certain steps, so
that it becomes a team effort. When not participating,
the other students could work on the activities outlined
in option 3.
These kits are much easier to build than the robot.
They are pre-manufactured kits that produce a credit
card sized radio receiver. They are available for $19.95
each. It would probably not be as interesting to the
students as building a robot, but it would be much easier
The two remaining websites, the Ohm Zone, and the Circuits
Applets, could be used during down time if using Option
1 or 2. It could also be used as a stand-alone activity,
although more structure is recommended than what is provided
1. The Circuits Applets website is an index page. On
this page, under DC circuits are five links to activities
congruent to the lessons of this unit: Voltage Divider,
Current Divider, Series Resistors, Parallel Resistors,
and Equivalent Resistance. Each of these five applets
is a simple circuit with entirely variable elements.
It has a voltmeter or an ammeter attached to one of the
2. Underneath each simulation is a series of challenges.
They ask the student to set all but one of the variable
elements, and then predict what the last element should
be in order to obtain a desired output.
Important note!!—The students can change the last
variable element and see the answer without doing any
work. In order to get around this, I suggest allowing
the students to look at the circuit diagram and work
through the first few problems together to see how it
works. After that, have the students copy the circuit
diagram and print out the rest of the problems (have
handouts prepared if this cannot easily be done). Turn
off the computer, forcing the students to work their
answers first. After they have shown their work to you,
they may return to the computer simulation to check their
4. The Ohm Zone website allows students to create any
circuit they desire with certain starting materials.
They have one 10 V battery, 8 resistors, 6 light bulbs
with a given resistance, two switches, a voltmeter, an
ammeter and a variety of wires with very small resistances.
This could be used to attempt to duplicate the results
of the Circuit Lab. It could also be used along with
a worksheet asking for certain circuit problems to be
solved. This is where more structure would be needed
should you choose only option 3. This website is somewhat
useful with little structure because of entertaining
and informative graphics; however, if you plan on three
days at the computer, you might want to create a worksheet
to guide students on this website.
• Successful completion
of the project(s)
• Peer evaluation of contribution of all team members
• Worksheets to accompany web-based activities (there are
problems to solve on the Circuits Applets web-site)