Electricity is a type of energy that can build up in one place or flow from one place to another. When electricity gathers in one place it is known as static electricity, which means that it doesn’t move and electricity that does move is called current electricity.
Electric current is measured in amperes, called amps for short.
Electric potential energy is measured in volts.
When an electric charge builds up on the surface of an object it makes static electricity. You might have got a small electric shock, which is static electricity.
Words you need to Know
Power Stations – this is a place where electricity is created and sent to our homes and other places where it’s needed.
Furnaces – an enclosed structure that makes things very hot.
Turbines – this is a machine that creates continuous power in which a wheel, or something similar, moves round and round by a fast-moving flow of water, steam, gas or air.
Generators – a machine that converts energy into electricity.
Ever heard of direct current (DC) or alternating current (AC)? Well there is a difference between the two.
DC electrons move in a single direction, while AC electrons like to shake it up a bit and change from moving backwards to forward all the time.
The electricity you use in your home is AC while DC comes from things like batteries.
- Lightning, static electricity and bioelectricity are all forms of naturally occurring electricity.
- Electricity travels at the speed of light (nearly 300,000km per second).
- A lightning bolt can measure 3,000,000 volts and can reach temperatures of 30,000°C. This is five times hotter than the surface of the sun!
- Electric eels have an electrical current of about 500V, for protection and hunting.
- Electricity makes the muscles in our heart contract. This causes the heart to pump blood around our bodies.
- The human body conducts electricity! Nerves in our bodies carry small electrical currents. These electrical currents send messages to different parts of our bodies.
- Electric cars are becoming much more popular. The sale of electric cars in the UK increased by 20% in 2018.
- There are over eight million lightning strikes across the world every day.
- Geothermal power uses the earth's internal heat to generate electricity.
- Iceland uses more electricity, per person, than any other country in the world. Much of this electricity come from geothermal energy - a renewable energy source.
- There are two types of electric charge, positive and negative. Two positive charges and two negative charges repel each other, where as one positive and one negative attract each other.
- Everything we touch is made up from tiny particles called atoms. They contain protons, neutrons, and electrons. Protons carry positive charge whereas electrons carry a negative charge.
- Atoms are generally electrically neutral, but if an atom loses an electron, it becomes a positively charged ion. If an atom gains an electron, it becomes a negatively charged ion.
- When electrons build up and there is no circuit for them to move around, it creates static electricity. This is what makes your hair stand up if you touch it with a baloon!
- Denmark is building the world's first energy island full of wind turbines to provide energy and electricity to around three million homes.
- There are many ways to generate electricity. Wind, hydro, and solar power are examples of sustainable ways to produce electricity.
- Lightening bolts are only about 3 cm in width, although they look much bigger! The bolts can reach a length of about 3 miles.
- The echidna (or spiney ant eater) and the duck-billed platypus have electroreceptors on their snouts. These receptors detect electrical currents, and mean the animal can burrow underground with eyes closed and still be able to find its prey!
- The honeybee flaps its wings so quickly that it can create an electrical charge. When the honeybee pollinates a flower, the electrical charge is transferred. Other bees can detect this electrical charge and know to visit another flower instead!
- The author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, was inspired to write story of the monster based on the idea that electricity could restart life.