In addition to building a basic circuit with a switch and a light bulb, another fun thing to do with electricity is to make an electromagnet!
You can use an electrical current to turn a large nail into a magnet. The electrical current causes the electrons in the nail to all spin the same direction, which creates magnetism. Cool, huh? Your boys will be impressed that you can do this!
To make one, you will need: a 6 volt lantern battery, a long piece of copper wire, alligator clips, and a large nail.
To make ours, I stripped a small amount of the covering off of the copper wire on both ends and then wrapped the wire around the nail. Then I needed a circuit with the ends of the wire attached to the terminals of the battery. Since we have wires with built-in alligator clips from our electricity set, I connected the ends of the wire to wires with alligator clips and then to the battery terminals. Voila! Electromagnet!
Your electromagnet will pick up paper clips, etc. Test its strength by making a chain of paper clips! (Although if you use large paper clips, it will probably only pick up one.)
Be aware that the ends of the wires will get hot! In technical terms, this is resistance. All electrical conductors oppose the flow of electricity to some degree, and some of the electricity is lost as heat.
Science is pretty cool!