What is Electricity?

Getting to Know Electricity

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Getting to Know Electricity

Learn about electricity when Ben Franklin leaps out of the pages of a student's science textbook to help him with his homework. Using the latest computer graphics and experiments, Ben explains concepts such as lightning, static electricity, and simple, series, and parallel circuits. Discover the relationship between electricity and magnetism and learn that a variety of energy sources can produce electricity.

Using the latest computer graphics and experiments, you'll experience the concepts of lightning, static electricity, and circuits.

  1. Students will learn that electricity is a form of energy that can give us light and heat. Electricity can also produce a force that makes objects move.
  2. Students will understand that electricity exists in nature. Lightning, for example, is a form of electricity.
  3. Students will learn that electricity flows from one object to another. For example, lightning is like a spark; it can jump between clouds, within the same cloud, or even flow between the clouds and the earth.
  4. Students will understand that lightning is a form of static electricity. Static electricity is electrical energy that moves from one place to another. Static electricity is created when friction occurs.
  5. Students will understand the concept of an electrical charge. Everything has a positive (+), negative (-), or a neutral charge. Most objects are neutral, meaning they do not push away from or pull towards one another. Positive and negative charges cause a push/pull force. Objects with the same charge repel (push away from each other). Objects with opposite charges attract (pull toward) each other.
  6. Students will recognize that some things can carry an electrical current; these things are called conductors. Many metals, such as copper, are conductors.
  7. Students will recognize that some things do not carry an electric current; these things are called insulators. String and paper, for example, are insulators.
  8. Students will recognize that currents of electricity flow in a circle, or circuit, through a conductor.
  9. Students will know the different kinds of circuits.
    1. A simple circuit consists of a power source, a switch, and a single light bulb (in this case). A simple circuit is connected in a continuous line.
    2. A series circuit is in one continuous line. It has more than one bulb. One can add more batteries to a series circuit to improve the power. If one bulb goes out, the circuit is cut, and the electric current is stopped. Consequently, the other light bulb will not work.
    3. In a parallel circuit, each light bulb has a power source. The power source and light bulb are attached to the circuit on a separate line. If one adds more batteries to the circuit, the power will not increase; however, the batteries will last longer.
  10. Students will realize that electricity can be expressed in following units.
    1. Volt- the electrical pressure, or push, in a circuit.
    2. Ampere- the number of electrons pushed through the circuit.
    3. Watt-the work done by the current, or the electrical power.
    4. Students will understand that electricity is related to magnetism. An electromagnet picks up objects, just like a regular magnet. However, the electromagnet only remains a magnet while an electric current is moving through it.
    5. Students will be familiar with the inventions that use electromagnets.
      1. The telegraph was a way of communication before the telephone was invented. When the electromagnets of two telegraphs are connected, one can send messages to the other.
      2. The telephone is another way of communication. A permanent magnet holds a metal disk, called a diaphragm, in place. When a person listens, a voice comes over the telephone in the form of an electric current. An electromagnet responds to the impulses of the current and moves the diaphragm in the exact pattern of the voice. When a person talks, another diaphragm moves; this movement creates an electrical current that matches the pattern of the person's voice. The current is then sent over telephone wires to another person.
    6. Students will understand how an electrical generator works. A metal wire loop is present inside a magnet. This magnet creates a push/pull force against the loop. Consequently, an electric current is produced.

  1. Before viewing the video

    1. Anticipatory Set: Give the class 3 minutes to write as many ways they use electricity as they can. List the results on the board.

      i) Access student's prior knowledge to motivate them.
      ii) Accessing also helps them to focus on important information.

    2. Open-ended web: Draw a circle on the board and write "Electricity" in the circle. Ask the students what they know about electricity. Radiate lines from the circle and write each fact in a different circle at the end of each line.
  2. After viewing the video

    1. Have children bring in pictures of everything that uses electricity. Paste all pictures on a huge piece of paper for a class collage.
    2. Draw a large circle. Divide it into fourths (math activity). Label the fourths: heat, light, energy (does work), and communication. Students list objects that use electricity under each heading.
    3. Write on the board: 110 Volt, Batteries, and Both. Have students list things that use these forms of electric power.
    4. Play "Vocabulary Match". Write the words found on the Vocabulary list on green 3X5 cards. Write the definitions on white cards. Distribute all cards to the class. Pick a student to read the word. The student with correct definition stands and reads it. Class determines if the answer is correct.
    5. Play "Wheel of Fortune" with the vocabulary words. Put blanks ___ ___ ___ ___ on the board. Read a definition. Select students to guess letters. First one to guess correct answer wins.
    6. Questions to ask, based on the video: What causes lightning? What happens when two negative charges are next to each other? What is electricity? What does electricity give us? What is a conductor? What is an insulator? What do you like best about electricity?


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