Can you imagine a world where we don’t have electricity…no light switches to turn on, no computers to turn on, no hot water and way more?
Electricity is a big part of our lives, and sometimes we don’t even realize it. First, let’s take a look at what electricity is. Then, why not explore our other electricity facts. We have lots of cool information on static electricity and scientists like Michael Faraday and James Clerk Maxwell. You can even try out our cool static electricity experiment!
What is Electricity?
- Electricity comes from power stations, the wind, the sun, water and seriously, even animal poop! Whoa, who would have thought that animal poop could make electricity?
- Electricity is a type of energy that can build up in one place or flow from one place to another. When electricity gathers in one place it is known as static electricity, which means that it doesn’t move and electricity that does move is called current electricity.
- Electric current is measured in amperes, called amps for short.
- Electric potential energy is measured in volts.
- When an electric charge builds up on the surface of an object it makes static electricity. You might have got a small electric shock, which is static electricity. This happens when an electric charge is quickly cancelled out by an opposite charge.
- Ever heard of direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC)? Well there is a difference between the two. DC electrons move in a single direction, while AC electrons like to shake it up a bit and change from moving backwards to forward all the time. The electricity you use in your home is AC while DC comes from things like batteries.
- What’s the world’s biggest source of energy? Do you know? Well it actually comes from burning coal. Coal is burnt in furnaces which heats the water until it becomes steam. This then spins turbines which are attached to generators.
The History of Electricity
- The first power plant, opened in New York City in 1882. It was owned by Thomas Edison.
- Thomas Edison was certainly a great inventor. He came up with more than 2,000 inventions, which includes almost everything that we need to use electricity in our homes including switches, fuses, sockets and meters. Wow, that’s a lot of inventions.
- Benjamin Franklin did a lot of electricity research in the 18th century. He invented the lightning rod amongst many other discoveries. Lightning rods protect buildings if lightning strikes. It takes the lightning bolt and moves it through a grounded wire.
Interesting Facts about Electricity
- Electricity travels at the speed of light. That’s more than 186,000 miles per second! Can you even begin to imagine that? That’s seriously fast.
- A spark of static electricity can measure up to 3,000 volts.
- A bolt of lightning can measure up to 3,000,000 volts, and it lasts less than one second!
- One single lightning bolt can light up 100 powerful lamps for an entire day, or make lots and lots of toast, in fact a couple of thousand pieces of toast. Don’t think you’d be able to eat all that!
- A lightning bolt can get really, really hot and reach temperatures of 30,000 °C (54,000 °F). Now that is hot, hot, hot!
- A 600 megawatt natural gas plant can power 220,000 homes.
- Now this will amaze you. Electric eels can produce strong electric shocks of around 500 volts. They use this to hunt and to protect themselves too. That’s pretty cool.
- A popular way to create electricity is through something called hydropower. Hydropower is a process where electricity is made by water which spins turbines attached to generators. Pretty neat!
Words you need to Know
Power Stations – this is a place where electricity is created and sent to our homes and other places it’s needed
Furnaces – an enclosed structure that makes things very hot.
Turbines – this is a machine that creates continuous power in which a wheel, or something similar, moves round and round by a fast-moving flow of water, steam, gas or air.
Generators – a machine that converts energy into electricity.
Volts – the size of the force that sends electrons through a circuit
Megawatt – this is a unit of power that is equal to 1,000,000 watts and is a measure of how much electricity a power station makes
Fuses – these are safety devices. A fuse is a strip of wire that melts and breaks an electric circuit if it goes over a safe level.
So now you know all about electricity! How about using this information for a school project or telling your friends and parents all the information you now know.
More Electricity Facts:
This is another type of electricity which happens when an electrical charge build up on the surface of an object. Read more about static electricity here!
Static Electricity Experiment
Check out our static electricity experiment here – it is a great way to test your knowledge of the subject and enjoy seeing science in action too!
James Clerk Maxwell
James Clerk Maxwell was a Scottish scientist who carried out important research in the field of mathematical physics. He made some very interesting discoveries relating to electromagnetism and electrodynamics. You can read more about this famous scientist here.
Michael Faraday, one of the most famous scientists in history, was born in England and is known as the ‘Father of Electricity’. Read more about him here.