Circuit Bench FLEXCART

Make it spin, sound and light up! Connect a maze of circuits to complete a connection with the device you want to power. No external power required! Students approach the Circuit Bench FLEXCART and select a combination of short and long steel bars. The bars are used to complete a circuit from a marked positive lead to a negative lead on one of the available electronics.

Students then crank the generator to provide low voltage power to operate the items. Explore different types of circuits, the amount of energy needed to power different items and conductors vs. insulators. See how activating various components at once changes the effort required at the hand-crank.

Air Rockets

STEM Concepts Learned from Use of Circuit Bench FLEXCART: Grade Bands 3-5

Physics of Electricity: Students will be introduced to electricity as a flow of electrons and will learn about types of circuits, conductors, and insulators through this lens.

Physics of Energy: Students will learn about energy movement, storage, and transformation by turning a crank to generate electricity to power devices on the circuit bench.

Models: Students will use the Circuit Bench FLEXCART model, a form of exhibit technology, to explain real phenomena and relationships in circuits and electrical grids. Students will use data and observations to evaluate the effectiveness of the model.

Social/Environmental Connections: Students will learn about ways our society generates the electricity that we use every day and the benefits and downsides of various generation methods.

Engineering Concepts: Students will test various materials as to use as conductors on the circuit bench and in their own circuits. Students will design circuits to power multiple light bulbs using their data from previous investigations.

Math Calculations: Older students can calculate electricity usage in kWh for their homes or schools.

Computer Science: Students will program an “algorithm” (a set of steps that when followed accomplish the same big picture task each time) by recording the directions for the circuit they create on the base. They will then exchange them with another student to follow, the goal being to accomplish the same activation as the original “programmer".

Vernier Technology: The Vernier Go Direct® Voltage Probe and the Vernier Go Direct® Current Probe. can be purchased separately from and work well with the Circuit Bench. They can each be used alone or in conjunction for even better data acquisition

STEM Careers associated with the Circuit Bench Unit Plan:

  • Electrical Engineer
  • Electrical Technician
  • Electronic Technologist
  • Electrician
  • Electromechanical Engineer
  • Electronic Engineer
  • Wind Energy Engineers
  • Solar Voltaic Installers

Circuit Bench FLEXCART Specs:

Circuit Bench Specs

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

The Circuit Bench FLEXCART includes a Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aligned unit plan for educational use. The unit plan includes individual lesson plans and all accompanying worksheets needed in order to teach the unit. Each lesson includes the direct NGSS alignment, a grade appropriate scientific explanation of the background for the teacher, the activity, a way to extend the lesson and the take away for each lesson. We currently offer Circuit Bench supplemental curriculum written for Grade Bands K-2, 3-5 and 6-8. Grade Bands 9-12 are in process of development. The following lists some of the NGSS Topics and Performance Expectations included:

Topic: Forces and Interactions

Performance Expectations:
3- PS2-3: Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.

Topic: Energy

Performance Expectations:
4- PS3-2: Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
4- PS3-4: Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
4- ESS3-1: Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and their uses affect the environment.

Topic: 3-5 Engineering Design

Performance Expectations:
3-5-ETS1-1: Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
3-5-ETS1-2: Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
3-5-ETS1-3: Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.