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Electricity -

a brief history

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for thousands of years,

humans have wanted to capture & control electricity

Over 250 yrs ago,

Benjamin Franklin experimented with “capturing” electricity from lightning.



Franklin was a great inventor & was one of the founding fathers of our country.

In 1752, he experimented with electricity from lightning.

In the late 1800’s, Thomas Edison & Nikola Tesla experimented with generating electricity.




Both men were brilliant & saw the "power" & potential in electricity.


Edison is credited with inventing the light bulb.


Tesla once worked for Edison in his lab.

Tesla parted ways with Edison because Tesla saw the future for AC over DC electricity. 

AC traveled much farther with much less loss in power & DC doesn't. 

AC is capable of having more "push".

But Edison didn't see it that way.

Soon a vicious battle developed between the the 2 men and lasted for years.

In the 1890’s, Nikola Tesla & George Westinghouse joined forces to "electrify" America.


Tesla had the science know-how & Westinghouse had great business sense.

Both men saw the potential of electricity for the future of the country.

They created the largest Hydro-electric dam that generates electricity, even today.

It is located in Niagra Falls at the Canadian border.

It is still producing electricity for New York state.

It has the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world.

Niagra Falls HydroElectric Plant is still producing electricity for New York state.


It has the highest flow rate of ANY waterfall in the world.

The United States leads the world in hydroelectric dams, mostly due to its high level of technology and plentiful supply of rivers.

Canada, Brazil, and China also produce a large amount of hydroelectricity.

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What is it ?

M a g i c ?

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No, not magic.

It's a form of Energy.


Electricity is a charge.

Even though it is too fast to see,

we know how it works.

It can be measured.

There are 2 kinds

  • Static Electricity

a stationary charge

  • Current Electricity

a flow of charge in 1 direction

Lightning is a form of
Static Electricity.

Current Electricity


a flow of many charged electrons in one direction called a current

There are 2 kinds

  • DC stands for Direct Current  

  • AC stands for Alternating Current 
    (usually carried by wires)

House Electricity


is a specific frequency of current electricity that flows through wires

able to power devices in your home & school

  • overhead lights

  • wall outlets

  • computers

  • refrigerator

  • Heating/Cooling unit

simply a flow in 
one direction

A current of water in a river or ocean is a flow of water in 1 direction.

Electricity is much like a current of water, except it's a movement of electrons in 1 direction.

What's a Current ?

 Electrons Flowing thru Copper Wire
Electricity travels by current

How Fast Is Electricity ?

In the wires in your home, electricity travels 1,860 miles per second.

That's very fast.

But light travels 100 times faster.

Electricity for Kids

House Electricity

Where does it come from ?

Current Electricity


Electricity for your house & school is

usually generated at a large power plant

The plant is usually far away.

Electricity is  carried by electrical lines to your home.

U.S. Sources of Electricity


1)  burning of Fossil Fuels
     (coal and natural gas)

2)  nuclear

3)  hydro {means water}

4)  wind

5)  sun

Coal Burning
Electricity Plant

only 15% are green
energy sources - Hydro, Wind, Biomass & Sun.

over ½ of the electricity used in the U. S. comes from burning Fossil Fuels

In the Power Plant


  • the heat turns water into steam

  • the steam drives / forces a huge turbine to turn

  • the turbine turns a huge generator

  • the generator converts motion into electricity

Where does our electricity come from ?


  • TVA makes our electricity here
    in North Alabama. 

  • Most is generated by Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, about 30 miles away. 

What is
the Grid ?

Electricity is transmitted  (travels to us) by insulated wires, called  “the grid”.

“The Grid” is like a “highway” for electricity.


very wasteful

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Crackle of Electricity - Electricity
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nuclear  power  plant

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