Grade Levels: 3-5, 6-8, 9-12

In this lesson plan, adaptable for grades 3-12, students watch the BrainPOP movie Touch Screens to discover how the capacitive touch screens in our smartphones, tablets, laptops, and more work.  Then they will demonstrate their understanding by creating an annotated diagram.

Lesson Plan Common Core State Standards Alignments

Students will:

  1. Brainstorm and share their knowledge of touch screen technology.
  2. Complete a cause-and-effect worksheet to identify how touch screen technology works.
  3. Created an annotated diagram of a touch screen device to demonstrate understanding.
  4. Present diagram to classmates.



touch screen, ions, particle, capacitive, capacitors, current, insulator, conductor, electrons, negative charge, positive charge, electric field, static electricity


Preview the movie Touch Screens to plan for adaptations.

Photocopy a class set of Touch Screen Cause and Effect Worksheet  (only necessary if students are working offline)

Lesson Procedure:

  1. Prompt a class discussion about touch screen technology. Begin by asking students what types of touch screens they use every day. Jot their response on the chalkboard or whiteboard. Now ask how they think a touch screen works. Allow time for students to share their ideas and write them on the board, too.
  2. Display the movie Touch Screens on the whiteboard and tell students that today they will uncover the mystery of how touch screen technology works with help from Ben and Moby.  Show the movie, pausing as needed to explain key terms and concepts, such as ions, capacitive touch screen, capacitor, insulator, conductor, electrons, negative and positive charge, and electric field .
  3. Next, divide the class into pairs and, if possible, have them open the Touch Screen Cause and Effect Worksheet on one computer or device and the movie on another. If not possible, you can distribute the worksheet to complete offline. As they watch the movie together, have pairs identify the effect of each cause.  Circulate as pairs work together, listening in as they discuss their ideas. If you you don’t have access to multiple computers/devices, show the movie on the whiteboard as pairs complete the worksheet offline.
  4. After completing the worksheet, have each pair share their responses with another pair and make any necessary corrections.
  5. Distribute the paper and markers. With the same partner, or independently, instruct students to create a diagram of a capacitive touch screen device, including its insides. Tell students to label the parts as well as describe their function. Encourage them to review the movie (or show it again to the whole class) if they’d like and use their cause and effect worksheet for information. If they want, or need, they can conduct further research about their touch screen.
  6. Finally, have pairs share their diagrams with the class or a small group, describing its parts and how they works.

Extension Activities:

Invite students to play Sortify: Current Electricity and challenge them to put topic-specific cards together into bins by category. Divide the class into groups of four. Within each group, assign each student a different topical Related Reading. Have students read the Related Reading and share the main points with the group.