At a Glance


  • STEM
  • Physics

Instructional Level

  • College & CEGEP


  • Electricity and Magnetism

Tasks in Workflow

Social Plane(s)

  • Individual
  • Group
  • Whole Class

Type of Tasks

  • Collecting & seeking information
  • Discussing
  • Solving problems
  • Reviewing & assessing peers

Technical Details

Useful Technologies

  • online collaborative platform
  • whiteboards

Class size

  • Small (20-49)


  • Single class period (< 90 mins)

Instructional Purpose

  • Application & knowledge building


Out of class, individual students draw a circuit diagram for a home appliance of their choice, calculating the current passing through the circuit when the device is in use. This work, along with photos of their home breaker box, the device, and its power rating, as well as a list of all the rooms or areas in their home that have breakers, are posted into an online collaborative platform.

In class, students are assigned to groups; each group is charged with a particular room in a hypothetical home. Within each group, students examine their teammates’ posts, compare and contrast their devices’ power ratings, and analyze each member’s circuit. Students highlight errors and provide suggestions for improvement. Working in the collaborative platform, each group constructs a circuit for their hypothetical room, incorporating all the devices selected by each team member. They must calculate the circuit when all devices are functioning, keeping to a 20A limit by removing devices if necessary.

Finally, using the circuit work completed by each group, a circuit for the entire home is built as a class, and its consumption is calculated by the instructor. The class then discusses the total current and power used, and the manner in which an electrical meter determines power consumption.

Instructional Objectives

The objective of this activity is to explore the concepts of current, power, and power rating in the context of household appliances. Students become familiar with electronic circuits like the ones found in their own home, and come to understand their limitations and recognize the need for breaker boxes to stop circuits if needed.

Workflow & Materials


Activity Workflow

View on CourseFlow

Contributor's Notes

Greg Mulcair

Greg Mulcair

John Abbott College, Montreal


I feel the benefits of this activity are that the students get to investigate everyday devices they use to develop core competencies of the course, and the active learning involved helps them explore these competencies in a very interactive and stimulating way.


Challenges included the use of SMART Amp which has limitations in terms of zooming the canvas and manipulating or duplicating content. Finding ways for the students to really engage with each other in the pre-class online activity was also a challenge. Not all students will have access to their building’s breaker box (for example, those living in apartments). In these cases students should find a photo of a breaker box online.


My suggestions would be to make sure you practice the entire in-class activity beforehand to get the timing right and guide the students carefully. You want to be sure the students are given enough hints to proceed, but that you aren’t giving away the entire procedure, and that your students are given enough time to finish their circuits and do the calculations. Also, leading up to that in-class activity, communicate well with them online and remind them to bring a tablet or laptop if they can.

Applied Strategies


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