What is Electricity? - Lesson for Kids

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  • 0:04 What Is Electricity?
  • 0:52 Static Electricity
  • 1:34 Current Electricity
  • 2:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jeremy Cook

I have been teaching elementary school for 16 years. I have extensive experience in lesson and curriculum development and educational technology.

Have you ever switched on your bedroom light and wondered what makes the bulb glow? The answer is electricity, and it's all around us - even moving through us! In this lesson, learn the basics of electricity.

What Is Electricity?

Electricity is all around us. It powers our lights, charges our phones, and helps keep us warm. Electricity is a form of energy that can give things the ability to move and work. Everything in the world around us is made of particles called protons, neutrons and electrons. These three tiny particles are found in everything around us. When the electrons move, they create electricity.

How do we get the electrons to move? When two objects are rubbed together, they create friction. Friction is the resistance force of objects that are rubbed together. Friction can get those electrons moving, which can generate electricity. Think of what happens when you rub a balloon against your hair, or scuff your shoes on the carpet on a dry day and then touch a doorknob. Electricity has two main forms called static electricity and current electricity. Let's take a look at them one at a time now.

Static Electricity

Static electricity doesn't move from one place to another. It stays in the place it was created. Sometimes, the electrons jump from one object to another and cause a spark. A spark, as you might guess, is a quick flash of light made by electricity. If you rub your shoes really fast against the carpet and then touch a metal doorknob, the electrons will pass through you and into the metal knob. That will cause a spark and give you a slight shock.

Lightning is a form of static electricity found in nature. As water and ice rub together in the clouds, they generate a charge. A charge is the energy built up when electrons move. When the charge jumps from cloud to cloud, or from a cloud to an object on the ground, we see the flash. Lighting is just an electrical spark on a large scale.

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