Shoshana has taught all grades with an emphasis in science and has a master's degree in science.
Have you ever wondered how electricity is made or how it gets to your house? You go to the refrigerator to get a cold drink; the light comes on and everything inside is kept nice and cold. Without electricity, we wouldn't be able to pump water, turn on lights, run computers, or charge our phones. All this is made possible with the electrical grid. A grid is the connected network that carries power from the source to all the places that use it like you in your home.
Electricity is a form of energy. Energy can change forms, but it never goes away. Think about that cold drink. Any sugars in the drink are stored energy and convert to the energy you use in your body. Electricity was also once another form of energy.
Remember that the sugars in your cold drink are stored energy? Well, a power plant might burn coal, a form of stored energy, creating heat energy. That heat turns water into steam, which engages a turbine. Then the turbine catches the steam's energy, which turns the turbine's blades. This turbine then turns a coil of wire in a generator, which converts mechanical energy into electrical energy. That heat energy is now converted into mechanical energy. Wow!
Does all the electricity coming to your refrigerator come from coal? Actually, in the United States, about one-third of the electricity produced comes from coal.
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Electricity in Your Home
That old refrigerator has quite a story to tell! You now know the energy that makes the food cold came from another kind of energy, but how did it get to your home? You've certainly seen electrical poles and wires along the roads and highways. Once electrical energy is produced it needs to be converted and transmitted through the wires. Perhaps you have also seen a power substation before. It's usually a fenced off area with lots of electrical stuff going on inside. Here they increase the voltage of the electricity extremely high before it goes out into the network of wires.
Voltage is the pressure from the power source that pushes the electrical current. So, the current can then flow or be pushed a long way — all the way to your outlet where your refrigerator is plugged in! Maybe you have noticed that light bulbs can be different watts like 60 or 100. Watts are a measurement of the electrical power, noted by the capital letter 'W.' Think of water flowing through a pipe. Voltage (V) is the pressure of the water, the measure of the flow is called amps (A), and the amount of water coming through would be measured in watts.
Watts can be calculated by multiplying the voltage by the amps. Mathematically, we write:
W = V x A
So, you can see the power in that! Think of the water in the pipe again. The higher the pressure (volts) and the more flow or current (amps), the more power that water has. The same would be true for electrical current.
All the electricity we enjoy in our homes is delivered along the grid or network from a power station where energy is changed from one form to another. Electricity is generated by a power plant and then converted to a high voltage similar to pressure so it can be pushed along the wires to your electrical outlet. Different appliances use different watts, a measurement of electrical power.
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Electrical Power Lesson for Kids
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