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Traffic lights

Target Audience
Upper Key Stage 2

Link to the National Curriculum

Sc4 Physical Processes (Electricity)

Non Statutory Guidance

pupils might work scientifically by:

  • Designing and making a set of Traffic Lights


  • To build upon the experience of electrical circuits the children will have gained in the lower Key Stage 2 setting.

Download worksheet

What you need

  • Electrical wire
  • Bulb holders/ bulbs
  • Battery holder
  • Drawing pins
  • Paper clips

Other additional equipment relates to the wood required to make the Traffic Lights system. This can be easily made by children of the upper Key Stage 2 setting using junior hacksaws, bench hooks and glue guns( either by the teacher or under strict guidance, depending on the school’s H/S policy. Making this equipment is explained in the video clip.

What you do

  • Watch the video from the website: practicalprimaryscience.co.uk
  • Lay the apparatus on its side for ease of working
  • Fit the tree bulb holders and bulbs in position
  • Fix up the wiring as shown in the video clip
  • Attach the battery holder and batteries to the side of the apparatus.
  • using the paper clip / drawing pin switch test the lighting sequence: Red, red and amber, green, amber and then back to red.

Group / Class Organisation

  • Depending on the availability of additional adult help, experience of the children in terms of practical work and apparatus / resources available, split the children into groups of threes/ fours to undertake the activity.

How it works

  • To enable the bulbs to light up in sequence requires complete circuits. once the children have mastered this concept then circuit construction applied to any situation becomes a formality with the skills transferred appropriately

Preliminary Activity

  • This work could take the form of a broader theme related to Road safety in general and in that way immediately the children are engaged because it becomes a real investigation where their own personal experiences can be brought to bear.

Follow up work

  • Introduce the children to further challenges that require electrical solutions. Very often these can come from literature e.g. The Iron Man by Ted Hughes.
  • Challenge the children to make a model of the Iron Man complete with flashing eyes!

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