Conductors and insulators

A circuit can be set up to find out which materials conduct electricity and which do not:

Again it is possible and probably more beneficial to allow primary children to design their own circuit that they can take around the classroom and find out what does and doesn't allow electricity through it.

Materials that conduct electricity are called conductors and those that do not are called insulators.

Conductors: metals, graphite (i.e. a pencil core) and some liquids (but most liquids require a higher voltage than can be used at primary level).

Insulators: plastics, wood etc.

Safety: Remember that with a higher voltage, all sorts of materials - including children - will become conductors so warn again about the potential dangers, especially with mains voltages.


On an atomic level, insulators have electrons that are tightly bound by the nucleus and so are not free to move even when given energy by the battery. The outer electrons in conductors are less tightly held and so are free to move when given energy by the battery.


Safety, Static Electricity
Current Electricity, Making a bulb light, Models
Atomic Theory
Switches, Short circuits, Circuit diagrams
Current, Voltage
Electrical circuits
Measuring current
Assessment/Discussion Material
Reference Material