What Is Electricity? 

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Can you imagine a day in your life without electricity? We use electricity for lighting, heating, cooling, refrigeration, public transportations and for operating computers, electrical appliances like blender, coffee machine, dishwasher, washing machine, television, your remote control cars and other toys and the list is endless. In fact we use electricity constantly in our day-to-day life. Electricity is a form of energy that can gives things the ability to move and work. It is the flow of tiny particles called electrons. Thus, electricity is the form of energy that we get when electrons flow from one place to another.

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What are Electrons?

Everything in the Universe is made up of atoms. If you take an object and break it down into smaller and smaller units, you will eventually find atoms, which are the building blocks of everything. Atoms are further made up of smaller particles called protons, neutrons, and electrons, out of which we are going to learn about electrons. The number of electrons in an atom can change as they are capable of moving from one atom to another. The continuous flow of electrons from one atom to another is known as Electric Current.

Electricity in Nature

We see electricity in nature in the form of a bolt of lightning! Lightning is nothing but flow of huge amounts of electrons that releases a lot of energy in the form of light. The energy in a single lightning bolt is enough to light 100 powerful lamps for a whole day. Deep inside the earth, huge electric currents are generated by spin of the Earth’s iron core. Below the oceans, animals like electric eels produce large amounts of electricity to stun their predators and to catch their prey.

Electricity Generation

To generate electricity, we require a fuel source such as coal, natural gas, hydropower, solar power or wind. Power stations convert fuels into electricity. The fuels like oil and gas are burned to heat water and turn into steam. The steam is then used to run a turbine with its high pressure that spins a magnet surrounded by copper wires. This generates electricity.

Water or winds are directly used to run the turbine. Solar power has a different mechanism. Solar panels made up of semiconductors are used to convert solar radiation into electricity. Usually, they are installed on rooftops and attached to solar lamps.

The entire world is trying to minimize the use of fossil fuels like coal that are non-renewable and cause pollution on burning. Instead they are opting for cleaner sources like hydropower, solar power, wind power, tidal energy and geothermal energy.

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Types of Materials

Scientists have thus learnt how to generate electricity and use that power to work coolers, heaters and light bulbs. However, the flow of electric current is not easily possible in all materials. Each material is made up of a different type of atoms. Based on how easily their electrons move through them, these materials are divided into two broad categories – Conductors and Insulators.

  1. The materials that allow electrons to pass through them easily are known as conductors. Examples of conductors are copper, aluminum, gold and silver.
  2. The materials that resist the flow of electrons through them are known as insulators. Their examples include wood, paper, rubber and plastic.
  3. The materials that have conductivity between conductors and insulators are known as semiconductors. Silicon is an example of a semiconductor that is also used in solar panels.

Types of Electricity

Electricity is a form of energy that can build up in one place or flow from one place to another. There are two types of electricity- Static and Current.

  1. STATIC ELECTRICITY – When electricity is at rest, it is called static electricity. It is caused by the build-up of electrical charges on the surface of objects due to friction or sudden contact. For e.g. when we rub two materials, their atoms lose or gain electrons and thus get charged.

For e.g. when you rub a balloon on a cloth, electrons build on its surface that has the power to pull very light objects towards them like your hair or a soda can!

 

 

  

  1. CURRENT ELECTRICITY – Electricity that flows from one place to another is known as current electricity. It is accompanied by the movement of electrons in a particular path through conducting materials. Current electricity can come from various sources, the most common being batteries and generators. All electrical appliances work on this principle.

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SAFETY TIPS

  • Never put fingers or other objects in an outlet.
  • Do not plug in too many appliances to a single socket.
  • Keep electrical appliances away from water.
  • Always wear dry slippers while handling electrical appliances.
  • A child should handle electrical appliances only when an adult is around.
  • Don’t climb on power poles.
  • Always fly kites away from power lines.
  • Stay away from broken or fallen power lines.
  • Never climb trees that are near power lines.
  • Never touch metal transformer boxes.
  • Always obey warning signs to avoid shocks.

 

Check Point

  1. Everything in the Universe is made up of tiny units known as________.
  2. __________ electricity is caused by the build-up of electrical charges on the surface of objects due to friction.
  3. Electricity that flows from one place to another is known as _________ electricity.
  4. The materials that allow electrons to pass through them easily are known as __________.
  5. _________ and _________ are examples of insulators of electric current.
  6. ______ and _______ are renewable and cleaner sources of energy.
  7. Electricity is generated in __________ by burning fuels like coal and gas.

Answer Key

  1. Atoms
  2. Static
  3. Current
  4. Conductors
  5. Wood, plastic, and rubber (any two)
  6. Wind/Water/Solar/Tidal (any two)
  7. Power plants

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