Do you rely on electricity like you do food and water? What would life be like without electricity to power your favorite video games, television shows, telephones and even the lights you read by at night?

Just think…without electricity, you wouldn’t be able to enjoy your daily Wonder of the Day! What a horrible thought! But don’t worry. Electricity does exist and it allows us to enjoy life in so many ways.

Since electricity is a natural force that exists in our world, it didn’t have to be invented. It did, however, have to be discovered and understood. Most people give credit to Benjamin Franklin for discovering electricity.

Benjamin Franklin had one of the greatest scientific minds of his time. He was interested in many areas of science, made many discoveries and invented many things, including bifocal glasses. In the mid-1700s, he became interested in electricity.

Up until that time, scientists had mainly known about and experimented with static electricity. Benjamin Franklin took things a big step ahead. He came up with the idea that electricity had positive and negative elements and that electricity flowed between these elements. He also believed that lightning was a form of this flowing electricity.

In 1752, Franklin conducted his famous kite experiment. In order to show that lightning was electricity, he flew a kite during a thunderstorm. He tied a metal key to the kite string to conduct the electricity.

Just as he thought, electricity from the storm clouds transferred to the kite and electricity flowed down the string and gave him a shock. He’s lucky that he didn’t get hurt, but he didn’t mind the shock since it proved his idea.

Building upon Franklin’s work, many other scientists studied electricity and began to understand more about how it works. For example, in 1879, Thomas Edison invented the electric light bulb and our world has been brighter ever since!

But was Benjamin Franklin really the first person to discover electricity? Maybe not! In 1936, a clay pot was discovered that suggests that the first batteries may have been invented over 2,000 years ago. The clay pot contained copper plates, tin alloy and an iron rod.

It could have been used to create an electric current by filling it with an acidic solution, like vinegar. No one knows what the device was used for, but it sheds some light on the fact that people may have been learning about electricity long before Benjamin Franklin!

52 Join the Discussion

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  1. This wonder is really cool. I go to Bailey Elementary and every day in library, we look at Wonderopolis and today I have library! I am so excited! I have no clue what tomorrow’s wonder is going to be.

    • Happy Wednesday, Ally! We are SUPER excited that you think today’s Wonder is cool, AND super excited that you LOVE going to the library with your class! We know a “certain librarian” at BES and we think he ROCKS! :-)

  2. I love this wonder. I really like stuff about people and the world, so this is pretty interesting for me. One time I was watching a T.V. show… I don’t remember what it is called… but it was about how they had to try to figure out how to make electricity like Ben Franklin. It was really interesting. It was on Cartoon Network. I think that Thomas Edison was a pretty smart person, too, for inventing the light bulb. Other people don’t think that this wonder of the day is cool, like I do. I don’t care what they think. I am just glad that you guys did a wonder like this today. Thank you, wonderopolis!

    • Thanks for being such an AWESOME Wonder Friend and sharing your WONDERful comment with us today, Cassidy! We appreciate hearing the things you liked learning by exploring today’s Wonder about electricity and inventors. We also like the story you shared about the television show, too! We’re so glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • We appreciate you sharing your strong feelings about electricity with everyone in Wonderopolis today, Michael! Thanks for visiting this Wonder and learning some AWESOME new things with us today! :-)

  3. That was really “electric”! (Zackary)

    That was so cool because the lighting was coming out. (Evan)

    Happy Wednesday, Wonderopolis!

    • It really IS a happy Wednesday, isn’t it, KF Dragons? We’re super glad you guys stopped by today’s Wonder to learn some really SHOCKING new things about electricity and important inventions with us today! We liked your comments, Zackary and Evan…GREAT JOB, guys! :-)

  4. I was right! Today’s wonder was about electricity. I have no idea about what tomorrow’s wonder is about! ;)

    • Way to go, Rahul! We appreciate that you like to guess what each next day’s Wonder might be about. We think it’s FUN to WONDER that way, too! :-)

  5. We thought the electricity video was awesome! We want to know more about how that works.

    We think tomorrow’s Wonder will be about playing tag or doing a show or baseball…

    • It’s AWESOME that you guys liked the ELECTRIFYING video for today’s Wonder, Miss Kirsten’s Kindergarten GT Class! Thanks so much for letting us know! We think all of your guesses for the next Wonder are SUPER! We can’t wait to visit Wonderopolis in the morning to see if one of your guesses is the focus of the tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day®! :-)

    • We thought today’s Wonder was COOL too, Caelah! Thanks for “smiling” at us all today…that’s SUPER NICE of you! :-)

    • Those are GREAT questions, Mrs. Foster’s 2nd Grade! Thanks so much for sharing them with us today and THANKS for visiting Wonderopolis! We’re not sure if the man in the video was a scientist, but the device that was making the electric charges is called a Tesla Coil. We encourage you guys to WONDER more about this interesting device on your own…we’d love to learn more about it, too! :-)

  6. We love electricity. We are girls. I personally like video games, but my friend likes reading a lot. We love wonderopolis and we hope you guys are here for a long time. Keep wondering D and S.

    • Happy Wednesday, D and S! We think it’s GREAT that you both like some things that are the same (especially Wonderopolis!) and some things that are different. In fact, we think that’s WONDERful! Thank you BOTH for being AMAZING Wonder Friends. We’ll keep WONDERing and we hope you will, too! :-)

    • We like that guess, Isha! We’ll both have to visit Wonderopolis tomorrow to see if your guess is correct. Thank you for stopping by Wonderopolis today! :-)

  7. This is my first visit to Wonderopolis. I am here with 3 very curious students from Ms. Thiessen’s class. We are wondering about the video. We all wonder what was that machine that made the electricity? Keerit is wondering how did the man in the video survive? And also – why did the electricity in the video change color? Jackson wants to know how the man is still alive. Maven is wondering what is the man in the video holding in his hand? We all thought the video was very interesting!

    • Welcome to Wonderopolis, Mrs. Kolbus! We think it’s AWESOME that you, Keerit, Jackson and Maven are all WONDERing so much about the video for today’s Wonder of the Day®!

      The machine in the video is called a Tesla Coil. Because we choose videos from many different places to accompany our Wonders of the Day, we don’t always know everything about the people in them. We make sure the videos are safe for our Wonder Friends to view, though!

      You guys might want to WONDER more about Tesla Coils by going on a Wonder Journey to search for answers! We hope you do, and that you let us know what you find out…we would like to WONDER more about Tesla Coils, too! :-)

  8. Dear Wonderopolis,
    I wonder what produces the static electricity from balloons? Is it the helium or the rubber?

  9. That video is really cool. I wold love to do that! I wonder if he got shocked? He wore gloves so he would not get shocked, I guess. So he probably did not get shocked. I learned a few new things from the words. I wonder if you could somehow make electricity from just air? That I know would be pretty cool, don’t you think!?

    • We sure do think it would be cool to make electricity from just air, Joleen! We bet that would also be a GREAT way to help power items that use electricity in an inexpensive way! Thanks for sharing that you liked the video for today’s Wonder and for letting us know you learned some awesome new things in Wonderopolis today! :-)

    • Hi, “Wonder!” Yes, the video for today’s Wonder was real, although we don’t know when or where it was filmed. We thought our AWESOME Wonder Friends (like YOU!) would enjoy seeing a Tesla Coil in action (the device the man is using to make the electricity). Thanks for sharing your comment with us! :-)

  10. I loved today’s wonder! I remember clicking on it,”Did people really discover electricity?” I knew it was already there! But to discover means also to understand it! I hope Wonderopolis does a wonder about the theatre, stage, acting, etc. because I’m an actor! Hopefully it’s tomorrow because of caught in the ACT!

    • Hi, Bradley! Thanks for leaving us such an AMAZING comment! We’re glad to hear that you “discovered” some new facts about electricity by exploring this Wonder of the Day®! Thanks for sharing that you would like to explore a future Wonder about acting, too! We think that’s a GREAT idea! :-)

    • Hello, Pandakin! Thanks for letting us know you thought this Wonder was awesome…we appreciate hearing that! :-)

    • We think that’s really cool, Eva! Thanks for sharing your personal connection to this Wonder of the Day®! :-)

  11. Hello wonderopolis friends!
    I loved the wonder today! I like how you wonder friends explain the wonder of the day. I wonder how you come up with all those ideas? I wonder what the 10th wonder is? Where did they find electricity? I wonder what electricity is made of? How long has electricity been around?
    Happy wondering day wonderopolis!

    • We’re so proud of you guys for WONDERing even MORE about electricity after you explored this Wonder of the Day® about it, Audrey and Molly! Way to go! Did you know that many of the ideas for our Wonders of the Day come from the WONDERful, creative minds of Wonder Friends just like YOU? It’s true! You can tell us what you’re WONDERing any time you like by clicking on the “nominate” button at the top of every page in Wonderopolis and answering a few quick questions. It’s easy and LOTS of FUN!

      Oh, and here is Wonder #10: Can You Travel the World Without Leaving Home? http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/travel-guides/. We hope you have fun exploring it! :-)

    • We’re glad you liked the video for this Wonder about electricity, Ben! We think there are different ways to harness electricity, but the device in the video is called a Tesla Coil. We encourage you to do some more WONDERing about it on your own! Thanks for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

  12. Who discovered electricity is the question, now need answers. Thanks.

    xoxo love y’all

    • Hi there, Stormy! We are super glad you stopped by Wonderopolis today! We encourage you to re-explore this Wonder of the Day® on electricity to learn more about who “discovered” it and how! :-)

    • It makes us SUPER happy that you shared this Wonder with your family, Sleepy! We think it’s GREAT when families learn together in Wonderopolis! Thanks for letting us know and THANKS for being a GREAT Wonder Friend! :-)

    • We’re so glad to hear that you liked the video for this Wonder of the Day®, Marina! Thanks for letting us know! :-)

    • Thank you for WONDERing with us today, Stefan. Thank you for pointing out that Nikola Tesla developed the alternating-current electrical system that’s widely used today. That would have been a WONDERful addition to this Wonder.

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Who discovered electricity?
  • Did ancient people know about electricity?
  • What ideas about electricity did Benjamin Franklin develop?

 

Wonder Gallery

burning light_shutterstock_72324601Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you take electricity for granted? It’s OK if you do. Most of us do from time to time. We get so used to flipping the light switch and seeing the lights come on, that we forget how much we rely on electricity until the power goes out.

Take some time today to think about how much of a role electricity plays in your daily life. From the time you get up until the time you go to bed, think about all the ways you rely on electricity. From lights to see by to alarm clocks to wake you up to refrigerators to keep your food cool, electricity plays a critical role all throughout the day.

Depending upon where you live, electricity might be generated in a number of different ways. Many of these ways use natural resources, such as coal, to create the power we use. Since most natural resources are scarce and not easy to replace, we need to be careful about how much electricity we use.

Jump online to check out How You Can Save Energy to read about some easy ways that you can help save electricity. You might be surprised by how much electricity you can save by making easy, simple changes to your daily routine.

If you want to try a fun electricity experiment, try to make your own Homemade Battery using a lemon, a penny and a dime. Have fun and make sure you get an adult to help you!

 

Still Wondering

Check out Science NetLinks’ Kilo-What? lesson for an introduction to electricity and power.

 

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