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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor


"Electro-Magnificent" Exhibit at Kidzeum

"Shock It To Me!" has been an "ELECTRO-MAGNIFICENT" exhibit in The Kidzeum at Grenada Elementary School! Children in grades Pre K through third visited the exhibit to learn about electricity and how it works by participating in several "hands-on" activities. Beth Muselwhite, The Kidzeum Director says, "We tell students how electricity is a form of energy - it makes things happen and it gets things done. But, we know it takes actual participation and experimenting with electricity for the children to really understand how electricity works. So, that's just what the students did in The Kidzeum!"

Static Electricity Example

During their first visit, students learned safety tips for using the electricity that is all around them. Inside The Kidzeum exhibit area, a simulated home with a living area, a kitchen, and a bathroom contained obstacles set up to challenge the students' knowledge about electrical safety. Using the safety rules they learned, students demonstrated how to eliminate the electrical hazards they faced. In the living area, an iron with a frayed cord rested on the ironing board. What safety rule applies? Of course it's that frayed electrical cords could cause someone to get a shock, or could possibly cause a fire. The lamp, computer, and television were all plugged in to an extension cord that was running across the middle of the living area floor. Electric savvy students utilized the rule that too many plugs in an electrical outlet can cause a fire, and cords should be placed closer to walls to prevent falls. Misplaced batteries on the coffee table reminded them to keep batteries out of reach of children.

In the kitchen, students viewed several hazards that included a crock pot and a blender too close to the kitchen sink. In the bathroom, a hair dryer and a radio resided much too close to the bathtub. Water and electricity DO NOT MIX! This safety rule applies everywhere... Keep all electrical items away from water! The students were even reminded that if it is thundering outside and they are around water - go inside. Where there is thunder, there will be lightning! All of these examples sound a little scary, so the teachers in The Kidzeum reminded students that even though electricity can be dangerous, if everyone follows the safety rules about electricity, we will all be safe!

While learning the history of electricity, students were introduced to scientists like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, and Garret Morgan who helped discover and invent different ways we use electricity every day. Part of the hands-on activities in the exhibit allowed students to become Kidzeum scientists and experiment with electricity. By assembling a simple circuit using a source of stored electricity, (a battery) and wires to connect the source of electricity to a device (light bulb), students discovered how the electricity we use travels through a loop. They were "ecstatic" when the light bulbs all came on and glowed! Participating in this simple science experiment enabled students to grasp how electricity flows through power lines from power plants to our homes, schools, and other buildings to make things work. To top it off, the children also created a "human circuit" when they gathered in a circle, held hands, and held an energy stick that made sounds and flashed lights. The students knew exactly when they had completed the circuit.

The different types of electricity and the many different ways we use electricity amazed students. We utilize current electricity and stored electricity (from batteries) each day, both inside and outside our homes. A third type of electricity, static electricity, can be found in the sky in the form of lightening. One experiment the children enjoyed involved static tubes. Students rubbed wool cloths over plastic tubes causing foam balls to follow their fingers as a static charge was created inside the tube.

Many students had a "hair raising" experience during their second visit to the electricity exhibit in The Kidzeum. Teachers cautioned students about the safety rules when around electricity to prepare them for a chance to experience static electricity. The students then placed their hands on the Van de Graff Electrostatic Generator to see how much static it would take to raise their hair! They received another "shocking" experience using a static ball. Each child found ways to make the glowing static inside the glass ball follow their finger. The students discovered that they had no shock at all, since they followed the safety directions.

Ways to conserve or save electricity is a major concern these days. Students brainstormed methods to conserve or save electricity. Several of the following ideas were shared: Turn off lights when not in use; Use energy-saving bulbs; Shut off devices not in use, like cell phone chargers; use "smart" power strips; and use natural light, heat, and cooling.

The Kidzeum mascot, Stuffee and The Kidzeum teachers encourage you and your family to help save electricity in your homes, school rooms, and businesses. They'd also like to remind everyone to stay safe when you are around electricity!

The next exhibit in The Kidzeum will be "Go, Mississippi!" We invite you to stop by The Kidzeum and find out all about our Magnolia state! The Kidzeum has a newly designed t-shirt for 2017. All proceeds from the sale of these shirts go towards current and future exhibits in The Kidzeum.