Monday, October 24, 2011

Annotated Bib - Electricity

Thinking of teaching electricity and magnetism to your fourth graders? Well, the following list of books and websites can be your new best friends in the works!


Electricity (Make it Work! Science) By Wendy Baker and Andrew Haslam. (2008). 48 p. World Book Encyclopedia, (0-7166-4702-8). Gr. 4-6.  
Electricity (Make it Work! Science) is a picture filled book that consists a plethora of labs for students to try out. All directions are clearly laid out along with a list of needed materials. These labs include exciting activities from creating magnetic boats to electric trains!

What is Electricity and Magnetism? By Richard and Louise Spilsbury. (2008). 32p. Enslow Publishers, Inc., (978-7660-3096-1). Gr. 4-6.
What is Electricity and Magnetism? is a book that enlightens students with clear descriptions of electricity and magnetism. After describing what electricity and magnetism are, What is Electricity (Make it Work! Science) provides an array of hands on labs. These labs include making a lemon cell, static electricity with aluminum foil, a battery, a magnetic field and an electromagnet.

Sources of Energy. By Jane Helenthal. (2010). 16p. Macmillan McGraw Hill. (978-0-02-285890-2). Gr. 4.
Sources of Energy is a thin, 16 paged book that provides information on the different sources of energy available in the United States. Through short descriptions and plenty of pictures, Sources of Energy depicts how to extract energy from a source. The example it uses is how coal is made into electricity through a power plant. Sources of Energy also shows the inside workings of the Hoover Dam and how it produces hydropower. Sources of Energy touches base on how nuclear energy and fossil fuels are produced as well. New ideas for energy like solar energy and wind energy is introduced with descriptions of its advantages. Lastly, a page is dedicated to describing the importance of saving energy.

It's Electric!. By Anna Prokos. (2010). 16p. Macmillan McGraw Hill. (0-02-284696-4). Gr. 4.
It's Electric is a thin, easy to read book perfect for introducing students to the concept of electricity. The author, Anna Prokos, drives you through the workings of electricity. She begins by breaking down what electricity is at its core with descriptions and a picture of an atom with labeled electrons, neutrons, and protons. The commentary is written in an easy fashion for students' comprehension. This book continues to depict the process of obtaining electric power, from the power house to traveling on the wire, and finally to the lights and appliances in our own homes.

Experiments with Magnets and Metals. By Christine Taylor-Butler. (2011). 32p. Heinemann Library. (978-1-4329-5359-1). Gr. 3-5.
Experiments with Magnets and Metals is stock full of labs for students to do with magnets. Each lab is in a science experiment format with a hypothesis, a procedure, a conclusion, and the scientific explanation of why you got your results in an easily understandable description. This book even begins by telling students how scientists work by observing, creating a hypothesis, experimenting, gathering data, and finally discovering a conclusion. Experiments with Magnets and Metals is written in large font and it contains several pictures and colorful pages. The procedure for each experiment includes questions to lead the student through the experiment. This book is perfect for a teacher who prefers to be the guide on the side as this book does virtually everything for you.

This website provides a lab for students to explore the relationship between magnetism and electricity by creating their very own generators. The lab is hands on which is great for kinetic learners. Everything from needed materials, step by step directions, reflective journal entries, to standard learning connections are included.

Here are the steps of how the sun's energy can be used to produce solar power. The website compares and contrasts a passive solar system to an active solar system through text and an easily comprehensible photo complete with labels and arrows. All important terms are highlighted for students. A fast fact about  how the French and English survived with fruit walls that used solar energy during the Little Ice Age in around 1500-1750 A.D. This tidbit of information will surprise students and keep them intrigued while reading the rest of the information. The website also explains photovoltaics and its advantages and disadvantages. Most helpfully, this websites provides a picture of the different layers of a solar panel and describes what each layer does. This would be a great resource to set background information for solar energy.

This website defines and explains hydroelectric energy. It provides details about how it is used in hydroelectric systems. Furthermore, this website offers the advantages and disadvantages of using hydroelectric energy. The text is organized clearly and therefore is easy to retract information  from. This would be a great resource for a student doing research on hydroelectric energy.

Magnets and circuits are the underlying components of electricity generation, which this website illustrates through an article. This article is helpful for teachers and students to provide background information on the inner-workings of a magnet. This would be especially helpful as an introductory lesson to a lab with magnets.

Here is a website with a simulation of a coal power plant. The video scans the parts of a coal power plant starting from coal heating water which creates steam. The steam turns the turbine blade and powers the generator, which creates electricity. Be careful though because the video is very quick and you may have to slow it down or repeat it for you students. It would also be helpful to your students if you explain the video aloud as it plays.

For the Teacher
Virginia Standards of Learning
4.3 The student will investigate and understand the characteristics of electricity. Key concepts include
a) conductors and insulators;
b) basic circuits (open/closed, parallel/series);
c) static electricity;
d) the ability of electrical energy to be transformed into heat, light, and mechanical energy;
e) simple electromagnets and magnetism; and
f) historical contributions in understanding electricity

Background Information from the Curriculum Framework
  • A continuous flow of negative charges (electrons) creates an electric current. The pathway taken by an electric current is a circuit. Closed circuits allow the movement of electrical energy. Open circuits prevent the movement of electrical energy.
  • Electrical energy moves through materials that are conductors (metals). Insulators (rubber, plastic, wood) do not conduct electricity well.
  • Among conducting materials, energy passes more or less easily because of the material’s resistance.
  • In a series circuit, there is only one pathway for the current, but in a parallel circuit there are two or more pathways for it.
  • Rubbing certain materials together creates static electricity.
  • Lightning is the discharge of static electricity in the atmosphere.
  • Electrical energy can be transformed into heat, light, or mechanical energy.
  • Certain iron-bearing metals attract other such metals (also nickel and cobalt).
  • Lines of force extend from the poles of a magnet in an arched pattern defining the area over which magnetic force is exerted.

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