Imagine what life would be like without electricity. No more computers or televisions. No more toasters or microwaves. Before electricity, people used candles and oil lamps for light. They used wood or coal to heat their homes. They used wooden boxes filled with ice to keep food cold.
But what is electricity? Electricity is a secondary energy. That means that it is made from other energies, such as coal, water or wind. Static electricity is electricity that doesn’t move. A bolt of lightning is caused by static electricity. Have you ever noticed sparks in your bed at night if you’re wearing fleece pajamas? As you move, static electricity builds up between the sheets and your pajamas. Current electricity is electricity that flows. This is the type of electricity that you have in your home.
Fun Facts about Electricity for Kids
One flash of lightening could power 1000 houses for a whole year. Lightning lasts one second, but can create up to 3 million volts of electricity.
Electricity travels at the speed of light, which is more than 186,000 miles per hour.
In a power plant, electricity is made when steam from boiling water makes huge wheels spin in a turbine. Generators use the energy from the spinning wheels to make electricity. The boiling water can be fuelled by coal, water or wind. Usually it is fuelled by coal.
Electricity comes from the power plant through underground or overhead lines to your home. It enters your home through a service box that keeps track of how much electricity you use. When you plug an appliance into an outlet in the wall, electricity flows into the appliance to make it work.
When an electrical wire moves through a magnetic field it cuts across magnetic lines of force, and a current is produced in the wire. This is called electromagnetic induction.
Uranium is a naturally occurring element in Earth’s crust which is used to make nuclear fuel.
Hydroelectric power plants generate power using the force of water to turn generators. They can be categorized into three different types; impoundment, diversion and pumped storage.
Thermal power plants are split into two different categories; those that create electricity by burning fuel (e.g. nuclear power plant, coal power plant), and those that create electricity via prime mover.
Solar power plants derive their energy from sunlight, which is made accessible via photovoltaics (PV's). Photovoltaic panels, or solar panels, are constructed using photovoltaic cells which are made of silica materials that release electrons when they are warmed by the thermal energy of the sun.
Wind power plants, also known as wind turbines, derive their energy from the wind by connecting a generator to the fan blades and using the rotational motion caused by wind to power the generator.