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Producing and Supplying Electricity: Garden of Amps



Producing and Supplying Electricity: Garden of Amps
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.86

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cultivation, downed, electromagnet, electromagnetism, geoelectric, geothermal, induction, magnetism, transformer, voltage, volts, wrapping, notorious, production, generate, cylindrical
     content words:    Hans Christian Oersted, André Ampere, William Sturgeon, American Joseph Henry, Englishman Michael Faraday, When Faraday, Joseph Henry, Aswan Dam, Three Gorges Dam, Niagara Falls


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Producing and Supplying Electricity: Garden of Amps   

1     Most plants grow in pots or in gardens. However, some plants are made from steel and concrete. These plants, electrical power plants, are very important to the millions of people around the world who depend on electricity each day. The seeds for electricity production were planted during the 1800s. In 1819 a Danish scientist named Hans Christian Oersted discovered by accident that electricity and magnetism were connected. Oersted was demonstrating how electrical currents could produce heat when he noticed a strange sight. There was a compass on a nearby table, and when the wires were connected in his circuit to the power source, the needle on the compass swung around. When he disconnected the wires, the compass needle returned to its normal position pointing towards the magnetic north pole. Electricity had magnetic pull!
 
2     In 1820, French scientist André Ampere proved that parallel wires carrying electric currents in the same direction in a circuit would attract each other like unlike poles on the ends of bar magnets. If the current flowed in opposite directions, the wires would repel each other. Ampere used his observations to make a cylindrical (circular) coil of wire that behaved like a magnet. Today we call cylindrical coils of wire solenoids.
 
3     In 1825, William Sturgeon, an English scientist discovered that you could increase the power of an electromagnet (combination of electricity and magnets) by placing a bar of soft iron inside a coil of wire. In 1831, American Joseph Henry made improvements to Sturgeon's electromagnet by insulating or wrapping the wires to help hold in the heat from the electrical current. This helped to increase the power of the electromagnet. During that same year, Henry helped to develop an electromagnet that was capable of lifting over a ton (2000 pounds).
 
4     The one scientist who had the greatest impact on future electricity production was Englishman Michael Faraday. Faraday used two bar magnets wrapped in electrical coils and sprinkled iron filings onto a piece of paper above the two electromagnets. After the iron filings formed around the electromagnets, Faraday stated that the lines of filings on the paper marked the real lines of electromagnetic force. He is the scientist who called the area around a magnet a magnetic field. The idea of fields is a very important concept in science today.

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