What is electricity?
Electricity is the flow of tiny particles called electrons and protons. For example, lightning is a large number of electrons flowing through the air that releases a huge amount of energy.
We’ve also learned how to generate electricity. Electricity that is generated can be controlled and sent through wires. Today, electricity provides most of the energy to run the modern world, such as your toaster, light bulbs and computer.
How does electricity work?
Everything around us are made of atoms. Every tiny atom has even tinier particles called protons and electrons that swirl around each other continuously. An electron has a negative charge; the proton a positive charge. Positive and negative charges pull towards each other; two positive charges, or two negative charges push each other away. Electricity results when electrons are pushed and pulled from atom to atom.
Now that we know what electricity is and how it works, let’s get some hands on practice with a potato battery.
How to make a potato battery
A potato battery is an electrochemical cell. That means it’s a cell in which chemical energy is converted to electric energy by electron transfer. In the case of the potato, the zinc in the nail reacts with the copper wire.
For this activity you will need the following things:
A large fresh potato,
a galvanized nail (it’s important the nail is galvanized, meaning they have a zinc coating),
a copper coin,
two alligator clips,
Now, insert the copper coin into the potato about an inch away from the nail.
Make sure the nail and the coin do not touch each other.
Connect one lead of the voltmeter using the clip to the copper coin.
Connect the other lead using the clip to the nail.
Make sure the leads are connected to the voltmeter.
Check the reading on the voltmeter. You should see an immediate increase in voltage.
Did you know you can also make a fruit battery? You can make a battery from citrus fruit, such as a lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit.
Electricity worksheets for grade 3 students
For students who want to practice electricity terms, we have created a couple of worksheets to review concepts and vocabulary related to electricity.