Electricity happens when energy produces power. Sources of energy like the sun, lightning and gas are charged and carried to another source through a panel, rod or wires. This creates a reaction that makes light, heat and power. Since electricity is so diverse, there are different types of electrical activities you can do to explore how electricity works.
*Scrub Brush Robots
Scrub brush robots are easy to make and lots of fun to play with. To make a scrub brush robot, you will need some sort of scrub brush with angled bristles, foam tape, a motor big enough to make your scrub brush move, some wires to attach to the motor, and a flat battery. For small robots you can use the head of a toothbrush. For larger robots, you can use whatever scrub brush you’d like. Place a piece of tape on top of the scrub brush. Attach the motor so the spinner doesn’t touch the tape and the wires are lined up vertically. Insert the battery between the wires, set your scrub brush down on a flat surface and watch it move all over the place.
*Change Salt Water into Gas
Use a 9-volt battery to change water into hydrogen and oxygen gases. Mix ¾ tablespoon of table salt, baking soda, rock salt or road salt into one cup of water in a glass so that you get a five percent salt water mixture. In a separate glass double the salt by mixing 1 ½ salt into one cup of water. Remove plastic from both ends of two different colored plastic wires and attach them to your battery. Take two pencils that have both ends sharpened and attach the other end of single colored wires to them respectively, securing with electrical tape if necessary. Put plain water in a beaker and add one of your pencils to it. Carefully put the beaker upside down into one of your cups of water. Place the other pencil in the cup of water outside of the beaker. Gases that look like tiny bubbles will form around your pencils. Compare the amounts of gas produced by plain water and different types of salt water.
*Compare Light Bulbs
There are many different types of light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs are the kind you find in many homes. They are used to light up rooms, lamps and porches. Electrons heat up small wires surrounded by filament in these bulbs and the energy produced makes them light up. Halogen bulbs use gas and filament to produce light and CFL’s (green light bulbs) use tubes filled with gas. Electricity energizes the gas to produce light. Using three lamps, one with each type of light bulb in it, you can compare how much light and heat is produced by each type of bulb. Use a thermometer to calculate heat. Turn the lamps on and off to determine how much light is produced.
~Resources for Further Exploration
Electricity is a broad subject that can be explored in so many ways. Resources abound that provide prize winning science fair projects and increase personal interest about electricity for teachers and students alike. The study of electricity can be an ongoing, hands-on tool that expands into history, math and nature. If you’d like to learn more about this amazing topic, this list of resources is an easy place to start.
* Energy Quest Science Projects
* A to Z Home’s Cool Homeschooling Electricity
* United States EIA: Energy Sources Electricity
* PBS Kids: Zoom by Kids for Kids Activities from the Show
* Amateur Science