Now first things first. Take a look around you and use your observation skills. What do you see? Anything that uses electricity? Plugs into the wall? Produces heat? Has an ON/OFF switch? If you said no, you may want to try again … I mean, you’re staring at a screen, right?
As you can see, electricity is one of the most commonly used forms of energy today. Humans have been researching electricity since 600 BC, and thanks to science, electricity has become one of the most important innovations of all time! It heats our homes, helps us cook and clean, lights up the darkness, and even transports us over long distances via train, airplanes, and electric cars!
But reports from our spy cameras conclude that many people do not know what electricity actually is! UH OH. If we use it that much in our daily lives, shouldn’t we understand where it comes from and how it’s produced? That’s why we need you, investigator.
You’ve probably seen electricity, like when lightning flashes across the sky or when you rub a balloon against your hair. It’s a basic part of nature and comes from the building blocks of all life – atoms. Good thing our Mission Control just bought a new shrink ray to ZAP you into the atomic world of electricity! Hold still now … BZZZZZZZZ….
Whew. I’m glad the shrink ray worked. Now, do you see an atom over there? It’s made of really itty-bitty charged particles. The nucleus or “center” of the atom should be packed full of positively charged and neutrally charged particles called protons and neutrons. But do you see anything floating around the nucleus? Those are negatively charged particles called electrons, and they are SUPER important, detective. If an atom loses one of those electrons, it will quickly jump and zing from one atom to another and create an electrical current. TA-DA! You have electricity. But if that’s so … how have we managed to create electricity for our own uses? It can’t be as simple as putting lightning into a bottle, right?
- Snoop on the video to discover the technologies we use to create electricity from our natural and renewable resources today!
- Explore the extended learning section by clicking on the “Learn More” tab below
- Or ask your teacher and fellow investigators to download the lesson below so you can increase your sleuthing skills on electric generation with your peers.