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Electrical conductors

Unit of work

5 lessons


7-11 yrs

In this series of five lessons aimed at students aged 8-9 years, students develop their understanding of flowchart algorithms, selection and inputs and outputs by using electrical circuits and the BBC micro:bit to test the conductivity of different materials.

Computational thinking:



Computer systems:


Design & technology:






Overall key learning

  • can analyse problems in computational terms, and have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve such problems
  • have repeated practical experience of writing computer programs in order to solve problems 
  • can evaluate and apply information technology, including new or unfamiliar technologies, analytically to solve problems
  • are responsible, competent, confident and creative users of information and communication technology

Additional skills

Creative thinking, collaboration, problem-solving, testing.

Lesson 1: Selection & conductivity investigation

In this ‘unplugged’ lesson, pupils construct electrical circuits and use selection to explain what happens to the output when conductors and insulators are added. 

Key learning:

  • To identify the output in an electrical circuit
  • To understand the term selection
  • To use selection when describing the output of an electrical circuit 
Lesson 1 details

Lesson 2: Decision boxes

In this ‘unplugged’ lesson, pupils further develop their understanding of selection using decision boxes and creating flowchart algorithms. 

Key learning:

  • To understand how selection is represented in flowcharts
  • To understand and use decision boxes
  • To create flowcharts algorithms
Lesson 2 details

Lesson 3: Inputs

Pupils experiment with the inputs on the BBC micro:bit and use their knowledge of selection to record their findings in decision boxes.

Key learning:

  • To review outputs
  • To understand what inputs are
  • To use tinkering to find inputs on the BBC micro:bit
  • To represent selection with inputs using decision boxes
Lesson 3 details

Lesson 4: Making a conductivity tester

Pupils learn how to use the BBC micro:bit’s pins as inputs. They plan, write, test and debug MakeCode programs to use micro:bits to test the electrical conductivity of materials.

Key learning:

  • To plan, write, test and debug programs
  • To write programs that use selection
  • To write programs that use inputs and output
Lesson 4 details

Lesson 5: Review & reflection

In this ‘unplugged’ lesson, pupils reflect on their learning in this unit and write an algorithm to test the electrical conductivity of materials using the BBC micro:bit. 

Key learning:

  • To decompose a problem into smaller steps
  • To write a flowchart algorithm that uses selection
  • To know and identify inputs and outputs
Lesson 5 details

These lessons are mapped to the following learning objectives and standards for computing and science: