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  • Key Stage 3
  • Popular Activity
  • Topical

Type: Activity
Learning Strategy: Case study
Topic: Energy transfer

Mobiles, cameras and music players all have their own chargers. These anonymous black boxes clutter our homes and are easy to lose. But this modern hassle could soon become a thing of the past. Instead of each device needing its own charger, we may soon be able to recharge them just by putting them on a plastic-coated pad the size of a mouse mat – a SplashPad. In this activity, students learn how SplashPad works and cut and stick labels to explain it to a potential investor.

Published: 2nd February 2005
Reviews & Comments: 2

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Learning objectives

Students will describe energy transfers in transformers ('chargers')

Try the activity

You will need Acrobat Reader installed to open the activity sheets.

Magnets and electromagnets [QCA 8j] – use the concept of magnetic field
Energy and electricity [QCA 9i] – useful changes usually involved energy transfers and transformations; electrical energy is transferred round circuits and can be transformed in components; identify devices that act as energy stores; a simple model of energy transfer from batteries to components in circuits; cells have chemical energy

Running the activity

Suggested time: 20 minutes

Possible starter:
Set the scene by displaying page 1 on OHT or by projector. This page makes the point – through a text message conversation – that many of us have a great number of chargers at home, each compatible with only one device. But help is at hand! A universal charger – SplashPad – has just been invented.

Main activity:
Give each small group copies of pages 2 and 3. In the context of helping a person to decide whether or not to invest in SplashPad, students cut and stick labels to show how conventional mobile chargers and SplashPad work.

News links

New Scientist
iThis is an article announcing the proposed new device and giving some of the technical details
This is the web site of the company planning to produce the mats
This explains how an electric toothbrush works – the science involved is very similar to that of SplashPad

Reviews & Comments

Write your online review to share your feedback and classroom tips with other teachers. How well does it work, how engaging is it, how did you use it, and how could it be improved?


Sep 4th, 2008

5 Star

This is one of the most direct and yet robust activities on solar energy. A complete project that would engage the students across all levels and provide cross curricular links - maths, citizenship etc

Great tool!



Mar 7th, 2005

3 Star

A very cool idea as far as a very able year 8 was concerned. She found the activity difficult but she attempted it well and perhaps a year 9 would do better.

However, teaching in a truly comprehensive school I feel that the ideas of transformers/changing magnetic fields are a little confusing for year 9's and better suited to year 11s.

The activity itself is well written but some of the answers are very similar and may need careful explanation.

Reviewer: catherine Serrao