Hands On Electricity

I know I have not updated here in a long while, but seeing as my schooling had me skip a few bits, I need to catch you readers up.

The point of the next few entries will be to bring you up to speed on what exactly is meant by AC power versus DC power. We will cover what the terms mean, the tools of each, the real-world-implementation and fun facts. But where to start?

Let’s start simple and hands on with an experiment.

A 1.5v dry cell battery (standard AA will do just fine)
A magnet (you’ll want something with a little kick to it. I used a simple round magnet. Fridge magnets won’t work very well)
A voltmeter
about 1 foot of solid copper wire
A compass
An iron nail (something that can be picked up by magnetism)

1) Getting started
-Touch the probes to each end of the battery and see that there is a voltage difference. We are measuring the amount of potential energy in the battery. Much like a roller-coaster at the top of its climb, it has only so much energy to expel and therefore is bounded in a similar way.

2) Neat Tricks
-you will need the compass, wire and battery. Complete a circuit by touching the copper wire to both ends of the battery and moving the wire near the compass. You should see the compass needle become magnetically attracted to the wire. Much like normal magnets, the field in the wire is aligned, but is moving. Because of this movement it created a magnetic field.

3) Neater tricks: Creating electricity
-Attach each end of the copper wire to the volt meter probes. Once that is done take the free magnet and move it across the wire at varying speeds, do not stop. As you pass the magnet over the wire, the electrons inside should either be attracted or repelled and show some readings on the voltmeter. Electrical current is defined as the change in charge over time, or the rate of flow. This is where the “electricity is like water” analogy comes in. Because of the “flow” of electrons endued by the magnet, a current can be measured.

Lessons learned:
Voltage: Difference in potential. It is a way of defining how much “push” you have behind your circuit.

Current: Change in charge over time. The rate of “flow” inside your circuit. The more electrons you push through, the higher the current.

We will revisit the electricity/magnetism topic several times in the following articles, so don’t worry, more will be explained.

Tune in next time for learning about DC circuitry and its applications and forms.


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