Series Circuit Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Alexandra Carpenter

Alexandra has an MA in English and a BA in history and film studies.

In this lesson, you'll learn about a special kind of electrical circuit called a series circuit. Continue on to find out what makes up a series circuit, how it works, and some problems with these circuits.

Let There Be Light!

Whenever you turn on your television or computer or flip a light switch, you have completed an electrical circuit. We use the word 'circuit' when we talk about something that goes around and starts and stops in the same place; for example, you might run a circuit, or a lap, around a track.

Electricity travels around a circuit, too. The electrical current, or energy, moves along a path. When it gets to a resistor, the energy can be used. A resistor is anything that uses electrical current, such as your refrigerator, television, or a lamp. Sometimes resistors are also called 'loads.'

To have a complete electrical circuit, you must have a cell that provides the electrical current, a conductor to carry the current, and a resistor to use the current. More than one cell put together is called a battery. The conductors can be anything that allows electricity to pass through it easily; usually these are wires.

A Series Circuit

There are several different kinds of electrical circuits. One of these is called a series circuit. The word 'series' means a number of things that follow each other; for example, you might read a series of books or watch a television series with many episodes.

A series circuit has multiple resistors. Instead of just one light or one television on the circuit, a series circuit has at least two. In a series circuit, even though there are multiple resistors, there is only one path through which the electric current can move. The resistors are arranged in a row. The current passes through the first, then the second, then the third, etc. as it makes its way around the circuit and back to the cell.

Disadvantages of a Series Circuit

They All Go Out!

One of the big problems with series circuits is that if there is a problem with any of the resistors, none of them will work. For example, if you had a series circuit with three light bulbs as resistors, if one of the light bulbs burns out, none of them will light up! Anything that causes a break in the circuit will stop the current from flowing.

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