Insulators & Conductors Lesson for Kids: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 Blocking the Charge
  • 1:01 Examples of Insulators
  • 1:21 Embracing the Charge
  • 2:04 Examples of Conductors
  • 2:42 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Did you know that electricity needs certain objects in order to be able to travel? Come and learn about what insulators and conductors are, and see some examples of each.

Blocking the Charge

Have you ever been shocked? Ouch! If you have, you know how much even a little shock hurts. There are electric shocks that are so big that they can actually hurt you or even kill you (dying this way is known as electrocution). So think about what happens when you plug something in, like a cell phone charger or a lamp. How horrible would it be if you were shocked every time you plugged in that object? That would not be fun at all. Well, the reason this doesn't happen is because there's a rubber cover around the wire that acts as an insulator.

Insulators are materials that do not transfer electricity. You see, in order for an electric charge to take place, electrons need to be able to move freely around the entire object. Electrons are negatively charged particles that are attached to an atom. Insulators work because they're made up of atoms with electrons that are tightly bound. If the electron can't move from atom to atom, then no electricity is produced. Think of insulators as security guards outside of a fancy house. Nothing is getting past those guys!

Examples of Insulators

Insulators are great because they can keep us safe from getting electrocuted. Some common household items that work as insulators include toothpicks, Q-tips, and rubber bands. There are many different substances that are good insulators, including:

  • Wood
  • Plastic
  • Rubber
  • Wool
  • Silk
  • Fur
  • Oil
  • Paper
  • Glass

Embracing the Charge

Have you ever wondered how light bulbs light up? Well, conductors are key players in making that happen. Conductors are able to transfer electric currents. They're basically the opposite of insulators. If the insulators are security guards, the conductors are the people opening the front door of the house saying 'Come on in, the party's here!' Conductors allow the electrons to move freely from atom to atom. This enables the electricity to charge the object.

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