Grade 9 Electricity

This resource page is designed to help students respond to STSE issues relating to ‘Electricity’ with inquiry-based actions. ‘Electricity’ is a unit set within the Physics strand of Ontario’s Grade 9 Science curriculum. The Overall Expectations for teaching and learning in this unit are:
1. Assess some of the costs and benefits associated with the production of electrical energy from renewable and non-renewable sources, and analyze how electrical efficiencies and savings can be achieved, through both the design of technological devices and practices in the home
2. Investigate, through inquiry, various aspects of electricity, including the properties of static and current electricity, and the quantitative relationships between potential difference, current, and resistance in electrical circuits
3. Demonstrate an understanding of the principles of static and current electricity.

General Overview of Resources Use
The activities of this resource page are organized into three progressive sections as recommended in the Backgrounder.
Click here for a brief description of the sections.

Detailed Suggestions for Resources Use
1. Model Inquiry-based STSE Actions
You may want to begin the unit by discussing the basic concept of electricity, including types like static and current, as well as relevant terminology (e.g. ampere, load, ohm, volt). Afterward, you could ask students to think about technologies or applications of electricity, such as energy to power lightbulbs, elevators, household appliances, and charge batteries for handheld electronics. Finally, it would be important to discuss how electricity and electronics have negatively impacted our societies and environments. A few examples include:
Screen time: Active Healthy Kids Canada reported data from 2005-2006 that youth of 10-16 years were spending, on average, six hours in front of a screen per weekday. Studies have linked excess screen times with decreased physical activity and childhood obesity. In addition, too much time in front of the television or computer may interfere with social development – these children are less likely to spend time with friends and family and may have trouble relating to others.
Consumption of electricity: In Canada, electricity is produced by renewable resources (e.g. hydro, wind) but also non-renewable sources of energy like fossil fuels, which produce greenhouse gases. According to the World Bank, Canada is one of the top consumers of electric power per capita in the world.
Electronic waste: As people of developed nations upgrade their television sets, computers, cell phones and other devices frequently, electronics are a fast-growing component of solid waste. Much of this "garbage" ends up in dumpsites of third world countries because it is often cheaper to export rather than disposing of it domestically. Most electronics contain toxic elements, which can leach into surrounding water and air, causing health and environmental problems.
After exposing students to a variety of relevant issues, related to Electricity and Electronics, ask students what could be done about them – record their answers. Furthermore, provide examples of actions people have taken through the videos below. With each example, discuss the type of action, potential sources of information used, and allow students to share opinions about the effectiveness of each action.

1) E-waste primer

2) Electronic waste exported to Ghana

3) Behind-the-scenes look at an e-waste recycling site (Canada)

2. Guided Inquiry-based STSE Actions
Before beginning the project, it is important to assess students’ comfort and expertise with conducting primary and secondary research. You might have to take some time to provide students with lessons on developing inquiry skills such as asking cause-result questions, designing experiments and correlational studies, preparing appropriate tables and graphs, analyzing data, reporting findings, etc. Since students will be conducting primary research, it would also be useful to discuss the general features of correlational studies and experiments.

If you feel that students have sufficient expertise with primary research, you should then proceed with a guided inquiry-based project. One suggestion is for students to conduct primary and secondary research on screen time. You could introduced the topic by reading an article on Ontario students' screen time with the class.
A few questions to supplement the article:
- Do you think the statistics presented (e.g. about 10% of Ontario students in grade 7-12 spend about 7 hours in front of a screen) are a cause for concern? Why or why not?
- The article says that "the study does not make any cause-and-effect link between screen time and health issues" but seems to suggest that there is an association. How could the researchers determine if there is indeed an association between amount of screen time and physical/mental health? (Sample answer: group students according to hours a day spent in front of a television/computer screen, find proportions of health outcomes for each group, and compare.)
- How much time on average do you spend watching television and using the computer each day? How is your inactivity affecting your health?

Afterward, have students...
a. Conduct secondary research on:
- Screen time habits of Canadian youth: actual vs. recommended amounts
- Potential negative outcomes of spending too much time in front of the television and computer
- Factors that might contribute to increased screen times among individuals (e.g. family income, gender)
- Actions of parents, schools, communities, organizations, and youth themselves to diminish screen times
b. From secondary research and anecdotal evidence, make a list of factors/demographics (dependent variables) that may affect amount of time spent watching television and on the computer (independent variable).
c. Create a survey based on parts a. and b.
d. Distribute the survey to at least 10-15 youth.
e. Display the results in a bar graph. It may be useful for students to combine their data to form a larger sample size.
f. Determine whether there is a relationship between individual characteristics and idling practices.
g. Brainstorm a number of actions that would help effectively address the issue.
h. As a class or in smaller groups, implement a plan of action.

3. Student-led Inquiry-based STSE Action Project
a. Handout copies of the assignment to the class – it may be useful to do this at the beginning of the unit. Read it over together and ensure everyone understands each part.
b. Provide students with a list of STSE issues relevant to the Internal Systems and Regulation unit, including ones that were brainstormed by students in the first, modeling activism phase.
c. Organize students into small groups of 3-5 students – each will explore and act upon one STSE issue. Encourage students to work collaboratively, making decisions and dividing work appropriately.
d. Provide students with in-class time to use the library and/or computer lab for research and encourage groups to meet outside of class time. It would also be useful to set tentative deadlines for each stage of the project to help groups manage their time.
e. Towards the end of the unit, students should have an opportunity to defend their proposed actions with their research findings in front of the class. This would provide a great opportunity for students to share their learning with the class, reflect upon their growth and next steps, and receive feedback from the teacher and peers.