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Conductors and Insulators

Conductors and Insulators

Conductors and Insulators

Electrical conductors (like metal) allow electric current to flow through them thanks to the free movement of electrons within them. Insulators (like plastic) do not.

Complete this sentence with one word: Electricity is the flow of ...

If electricity is the flow of electrons, and a conductor in an orchestra is the person who keeps the music playing, then what do you think an electrical conductor does?

Why do you think electrical cables use copper?

Electrical conductors are materials which allow electricity to flow through them and pass the current onto other objects.

Examples include metals such as copper, aluminium and gold.

If a conductor is a material which allows electricity to flow through it, what do you think an insulator is?

Why does the copper in electric wires have a plastic coating around the outside of it?

Insulators are materials that prevent the flow of electricity through them.

Examples include plastic, glass and sand. Plastic is used in electrical wires to cover the copper to ensure that electricity does not escape the wire.


This image shows the structure of a metal.

You can see that there are free electrons throughout the metal which are able to move.


What do these free electrons allow metals to do well?

A) Insulate electrical charge B) Conduct electrical charge


These free electrons allow metals to conduct electrical charge easily.

Remember that electricity is the flow of electrons. In metals, electrons are able to move easily through the metal.