From  VDOE's Curriculum Framework (a student friendly version is located on the activity page in the Study Guide for each standard)

Standard 4.3 - Electricity

The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of electricity. Key concepts include
a) conductors and insulators;
b) basic circuits (open/closed, parallel/series);
c) static electricity;
d) the ability of electrical energy to be transformed into heat, light, and mechanical energy;
e) simple electromagnets and magnetism: and
f) historical contributions in understanding electricity.
* voltage, ampere (excluded from 2003 revision)
The concepts developed in this standard include the following:

Electric Current

A continuous flow of negative charges (electrons) creates an electric current. The pathway taken by a electric current is a circuit.  (Students should be able to use the dry cell symbols (-) and (+).)

Open and Closes Circuits

Closed circuits allow the movement of electrical energy. Open circuits prevent the movement of electrical energy.

Battery & Light bulb animation (Shockwave) 
Directions - close and open the circuit by clicking the switch
Conductors and Insulators
∑ Electrical energy moves through materials that are conductors (metals). Insulators (rubber, plastic, wood) do not conduct electricity well.
Read more about resistance
∑ Among conducting materials, energy passes more or less easily because of the materialís resistance.
In a series circuit there is only one
pathway for the current
Lamps in series - interactive graphic

A series circuit - one pathway

In a parallel circuit there are two or more pathways for it.

A parallel circuit - more than one pathway

Static Electricity
∑ Rubbing certain materials together creates static electricity.

Lightning is the discharge of static electricity in the atmosphere.
Energy Transformations
∑ Electrical energy can be transformed into heat, light, or mechanical energy.
Magnets ∑ Certain iron-bearing metals attract other such metals (also nickel and cobalt). (Students should be able to compare and contrast a permanent magnet made for iron bearing metals and an electromagnet which can be turned on and off)
 Lines of Force, Magnetic fields

Lines of force extend from the poles of a magnet in an arched pattern defining the area over which magnetic force is exerted. (Students should be able to create a diagram of a magnetic field using a magnet.)
      An electric current creates a
magnetic field, and a moving magnetic field creates an electric current. (Students should be able to explain how electricity is generated by a moving magnetic field.)
Simple Electromagnets

A current flowing through a wire creates a magnetic field. Wrapping a wire around certain iron-bearing metals (iron nail) and creating a closed circuit is an example of a simple electromagnet.
(Students should be able to design and perform an investigation to determine the strength of an electromagnet. (The manipulated variable could be the number of coils of wire and the responding variable could be the number of paperclips the magnet can attract.))
Historical Contributions

Electricity timeline

Benjamin Franklin, Michael Faraday, and Thomas Edison made important discoveries about electricity.
Benjamin Franklin

Electricity in Lightning

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin flew a kite with a metal tip into a thunderstorm to prove that lightning is a form of electricity. He was very lucky he wasn't killed!
Michael Faraday


In 1831, Michael Faraday demonstrated electromagnetic induction by passing a magnet through a coil of wire.


Thomas Edison

Electric Lighting

In the 1870's, Edison built an electric generator and soon after demonstrated electric lighting for the  first time in America.