In 1752, with his famous storm-flying kite, Ben Franklin discovered lightning was electricity. In 1879, Thomas Edison perfected the electric light bulb. In the twenty-first century, we take our electricity for granted until we don’t have any. A few weeks ago my family lived without electricity for thirteen hours. It wasn’t the infamous rolling California blackouts that got us, but rather a tree that fell on an overhead power line during a storm. Although I enjoyed the quiet, it was a bit bizarre living without email, electric lights, heat, the microwave, or television.

BrainPOP: Electricity5 stars

On the subject of electricity, BrainPOP offers not just one of their educational animations, but five. Topics include a general introduction to electricity, static electricity, batteries, energy sources, thunderstorms and atoms. Each topic page (geared toward upper elementary students) features an animated movie, a quiz ("What are the three components of a circuit?"), a printable activity sheet and a try-it-yourself experiment.

Electricity Online4 stars

"Materials may be classified into one of three categories depending on their electrical conductivity (their ability to conduct a current). Conductors conduct electric charge better than semi-conductors, which in turn conduct better than insulators." This extensive site was created for the ThinkQuest Internet competition by teens from three different countries: India, Netherlands and United States. It is divided into Lessons (several dozen on topics such as circuitry and electrostatics), Applications (including Solar Power and Telecommunications), History and Activities.

Energy Story5 stars

An outstanding article for middle and high-school students on energy sources from fossil fuels and hydro-power to solar and nuclear power. Chapter Two (What is Electricity?) and Chapter Eleven (Electricity Transmission System) explain electricity from atoms to volts. Be sure to visit the comprehensive Energy Quest site. You'll find its link at the bottom of any Energy Story page. Built just for kids by the California Energy Commission, Energy Quest includes games, quizzes, and experiments. If life has given you lemons and you are tired of lemonade, try the lemon battery.

IPPEX Online4 stars

"During a thunderstorm, clouds become negatively charged relative to the ground (or other clouds.) Since opposite charges attract, a lightning bolt will appear as charges are exchanged between the cloud and the ground." Presented for middle-schoolers in a fun, interactive format, this site was created by a team at Stevens Institute of Technology to "demonstrate that the Internet can be used for science education and participation in ways that are not possible with a text book or a standalone computer."

Science Made Simple: Static Electricity4 stars

"Static electricity is the imbalance of positive and negative charges" explains the "Curious Kids' Science Newsletter." A wonderfully in-depth analysis of static electricity for middle and high-school students, along with an "I CAN READ" section for early elementary students. Terrific illustrations and at-home experiments make this a great site!

Honorable Mentions

The following links are either new discoveries or sites that didn't make it into my newspaper column because of space constraints. Enjoy!

Beakman's Electric Motor

Edison's Miracle of Light

Theatre of Electricity

What is Electricity?

Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Electricity." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 28 Feb. 2001. Web. 2 Sep. 2015. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/electric/ >.

About This Page

By . Originally published February 28, 2001. Last modified February 28, 2001.

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