Voltage & Current Lesson for Kids

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michelle Jones

Michelle has taught at the elementary level and has earned a master's degree.

There are many uses of electricity. Not only does it allow you to watch your favorite TV show or bake a pizza in the oven, but it also allows you to do your homework on a computer or play your favorite video game. This lesson explains the basics of electricity, including voltage and the different types of currents. Updated: 02/11/2020

Experiment Idea

One night a strong storm passed through Jacob's neighborhood. Suddenly, the entire house went dark. No lights, no sounds, nothing. Jacob had always been interested in electricity and this incident gave him a great idea for the upcoming science fair at his school.

He decided to show how electricity flowed through a circuit by using marbles and a clear plastic tube. Here, a circuit refers to the path between two points in which electricity flows.

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  • 0:04 Experiment Idea
  • 0:30 Voltage
  • 1:08 Current
  • 1:42 Direct Current
  • 2:13 Alternating Current
  • 2:51 Lesson Summary
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Voltage

Jacob begins with voltage, the force that pushes electrons through a circuit to produce electricity. At the beginning of the circuit, electricity has a certain amount of force. It also has a certain amount of force at the end of the circuit.

The difference between these two amounts is the voltage, measured in volts. A small toy might take a 1.5-volt battery, but an excavator at a construction site requires a 24-volt battery.

To show this, Jacob uses one short and one long tube. He drops marbles down each one, with gravity representing the force or voltage. Which one do you think will have more volts at the end? The marbles going down the longer tube will have more because gravity had more time to act on it.

Current

Next, Jacob demonstrates current, which is the act of the electrons flowing through the circuit. Each electron pushes the one in front of it, creating a continuous current. The higher the voltage, the faster the current.

This time the tubes are the same length. At the beginning of one tube, he uses a feather to push the marbles. For the other, he uses a pencil. In which tube will the marbles roll faster? The marbles that were pushed by the pencil will have a faster current because it had more force or voltage at the beginning.

Jacob's not done with current yet, because he wants to show two types of current, direct and alternating.

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