Electrifying Experiences

Article excerpt

"Whoever wishes to get a true appreciation of the greatness of our age should study the history of electrical development."

-Nikola Tesla, 1915

Charge up your classroom with cool experiments, awesome demonstrations, and noteworthy historical information about electricity. Learn about people who made major scientific contributions that opened up new frontiers leading to household lighting, the long-distance transmission of power, and electronic devices that made life easier. Visit these Web sites for background information, illustrations, explanations, lessons, and insight into the world of electricity.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

Benjamin Franklin: Glimpses of the Man

Benjamin Franklin was a Founding Father who had a curiosity for science. The Franklin Institute provides glimpses into his long life as a statesman, scientist, inventor, printer, philosopher, musician, and economist. Links to lessons and electricity safety tips are also included.

Benjamin Franklin's Kite Experiment

How did Franklin's experiment with the kite work? Why did Franklin remain unscathed while holding the string? Why was he shocked when he touched the key? Answers to these questions are thoroughly explained through a series of diagrams and 18th century illustrations. The Bakken Museum and Library in Minneapolis is a center for education that furthers the understanding of the history, cultural context, and applications of electricity and magnetism in the life sciences and their benefits to contemporary society.

The Education Site/Electricity

Read snippets about the historical figures who played important roles in the discovery and use of electricity, like the Greek philosopher Thales, who noticed that when he rubbed a piece of amber on cloth it would attract light objects, or Michael Faraday, who demonstrated that passing a magnet through a coil of wire could produce electricity. In addition, you can find brief facts about batteries, circuits, insulators, and other electrical devices and terms. PowerGen, one of the UK's best-known names in electricity and gas, sponsors this site.

Inventing Entertainment: The Motion Pictures and Sound

Recordings of Thomas Edison

This American Memory collection from The Library of Congress features 341 motion pictures, 81 disc sound recordings, and other related materials, such as photographs and original magazine articles. In addition, there is a timeline and biography about Thomas Edison.

Tesla: Master of Lightning

Edison is well known for his many inventions, Franklin for his kite experiment, but who is Nikola Tesla and what scientific contributions did he make during his lifetime? Nikola Tesla was considered a genius in

the area of low-frequency electrical power generation and transmission at the turn of the 20th century. Some of his key inventions were alternating current, the Tesla coil, and remote control. Tesla also conducted experiments on transmitting electrical power from one point to another without wires. Unfortunately, he was decades ahead of the wireless technology, and the project was abandoned. George Westinghouse purchased Tesla's patents, but it would not be until the 1930s that another attempt was made to transmit power without wires in the confines of the Westinghouse Laboratory. [See the sidebar "An Early Attempt at Wireless Transmission."]

WORLD OF ELECTRICITY

The Atoms Family

Famous gothic horror characters like Frankenstein's monster and Dracula present activities about different forms of energy, including electricity. In Frankenstein's Lightning Laboratory, you can make a battery using a lemon to light a bulb and learn about electrical safety from the mistakes of his friends.

Ippex Online: Electricity and Magnetism

Students will enjoy this virtual learning module on electricity and magnetism. Concepts covered include charged particles, electric current, resistance, voltage, and circuits. …