The average person uses a lot of electricity in the many things they do every day. We are used to being able to turn on a light, watch the television, use our mobile devices, and stream music or videos. Because electricity is so much a part of our lives, we should know something about it.
The first thing that we need to know about electricity involves understanding atoms. These are the small particles that make up all matter. They are so tiny that it takes billions and billions of atoms to make up something like a spoon.
Even though atoms are incredibly small, there are even smaller objects inside each atom called electrons, protons, and neutrons. When it comes to the topic of electricity, it all relates to “charges.” Electrons have a negative charge (-) and protons have a positive charge (+).
The amount for each of these is the same, however, they are opposites. Neutrons and protons adhere together in the center of the atom and this is called the nucleus. The electrons are spinning fast around the outside of the atom, and it’s the proton positive charge that keeps the electrons from flying away from the atom.
Protons are trapped inside of the nucleus and it’s the electrons that primarily give us electricity. Due to this fact, the name “electricity” is taken from the word electron. For some elements, when a force is applied to the electrons outside of the atom, they can loosen and move to another atom.
When a lot of the atoms are together and the electrons are relocating from one atom to another one in the same direction, it creates “electricity.” So the definition of electricity is the “flow” of electrons.
To make electricity you must first create an electric circuit. This is an action that causes the flow of electrons to go in one direction.
When you turn on a light switch in your home you are creating an electric circuit that allows the electrons to flow to a light bulb so that it turns on. The elements of an electric circuit include:
There aren’t very many places that you could actually “see” electricity. One thing that is commonly seen and is electricity is in the form of lightning. Lightning happens when a lot of electrons move rapidly from one place to another place and create a “spark.”
Lightning happens when these electrons move from cloud to cloud, cloud to the surface, and surface to cloud. Smaller examples of visible electricity is in the form of static electricity.
This can be seen in a darkened room when you scoot your feet over a carpet in a low humidity or dry room and then touch something metal, like a doorknob. The “spark” is electricity.
There are two main forms of electricity:
Direct Current (or DC) which is the type found in a flashlight and is created by using batteries.
Alternating Current (or AC) which is the type of electricity that is in your home’s outlets.
What does “DC” stand for?
What does “AC” stand for?
What object in an atom is primarily responsible for electricity?
What are the three main parts of an atom?
neutron, proton, electron
What is the definition of electricity?
the “flow” of electrons