- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Imagine for a moment what our world would be without electricity! No televisions, no radios, no microwave ovens to pop our popcorn, no Internet for the Dirtmeister to talk on! While the forces that make electricity possible were first discovered by ancient Greek philosophers over a couple of thousand years ago, electricity has only been in practical use for about 200 years. Back in 1799, an Italian scientist named Alessandro Volta built the first simple battery and the rest, as they say, is history! To find out more about the development of this universal power source and learn the "shocking" truth about some of the folks who made it happen, join us on an "electrifying" Internet Field Trip!
In order to get the big picture, it's best to start with a brief history of electricity. You'll get the inside scoop on people like Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, and of course, Ben Franklin. Once you've found out the truth behind old Ben's famous "kite" experiment, it's off to get a charge at A Lightning Exhibit, where you can get the basics on those charged streaks of light in the sky. Next, head to the Theater of Electricity, where you can read about the history of the Van de Graaff Generator and see how lightning can be made indoors!
Next, it's time to delve into the development of current electricity by exploring how a battery works. Would you like to know how such modern-day electrical power was made possible? Take a virtual tour of the Nikola Tesla Museum to discover how this forgotten genius made modern-day electrical power possible. Students can examine lots of images and hear the sound of a high-frequency oscillator discharge, but the text is not accessible to younger students. Make sure you click on the rooms showing the evolution of the polyphase system, Tesla's transformer, and his early remote control systems!
When it comes to a fascination with electricity, no one was more "sparked" by a desire to harness its use than Thomas Edison, who once said he constructed 3,000 different theories in connection with the electric light. After getting the inside story on how Edison and his staff developed the first successful incandescent lamp, we conclude our tour with a wonderful look at a collection of Edison light bulbs from a bygone era.