What is electricity?
Electricity is a type of energy that can flow from one thing to another. It is a huge part of your everyday life. For starters, it keeps your home and school warm in the winter and cool in the summer. It is used to make lots of things in your home work like lights, the microwave and your hair dryer. Electricity is made from energy stored in materials and other natural sources. Some materials that store energy include coal, natural gas, nuclear and oil. Energy from renewable (or reusable) environmental sources includes solar, wind and falling water.Electricity is made, or converted from burning materials like coal, natural gas, and oil or from collecting power from other environmental sources like solar, wind and falling water. Here is a nice opportunity to discuss as a group what sources of electricity are used in your own community. Examples may include electric cars, gas powered cars, windmills or solar panels that are along highways or dams if there are any in your area.
Where does electricity come from?
Yes, it comes from a socket in the wall. But that’s not where it really comes from. Let's find out how it gets to your home to light up your room and run other things in your home.It starts with an energy source like wind and solar power. This energy is converted into electricity which means it can now flow along wires and ultimately travel to your home. Lets's follow the pathway from beginning to your home.
1. Let’s start with an energy source like solar power. This energy is converted into electricity by the solar panels like the ones you see on roofs. Once the energy is made into electricity, it can flow along metal wires. Any material that electricity can flow through is called a conductor. So the solar panel collects solar power and converts it to electricity, now travels along conductive wires from one place to another. When electricity has to travel a very long distance, it needs to be very strong or high voltage.
2. A transformer can make electricity stronger or weaker. So after electricity is made from solar or wind power, a transformer collects it and makes it stronger. That high voltage electricity is strong enough to travel long distances. It travels along all of those wires on electric poles through your town. (or these wires can be buried).
3. The electricity eventually reaches your street where the voltage way to strong for a house. The power has to be reduced or made weaker. Every street or property has its own transformer. While the first transformer made the electricity high voltage, this transformer now makes the power lower voltage. From there it travels through distribution lines into your home and into your wall. The holes in the wall socket connect to the wires that go from the street transformer into your home, through your wall and into the back of the socket in your wall. Now you’re plugged-in! Even though it is less strong or lower voltage, this is still very dangerous and should never be touched!!!
4. Insulators - Have you ever noticed that all electrical wires in your home are covered in plastic/rubber? Metal is a conductor, electricity can flow through it. Plastic is called an insulator, electricity cannot flow through it. So when you touch the plastic covered wire you will not get a shock. If you were to put uncovered metal into a socket, well you would get electrocuted! Sockets are VERY dangerous and can cause death. That’s why all sockets in a home should be covered with protectors.
Use the image below as a guide to draw your own version of how electricity gets to your home