It’s Never Too Early to Teach Kids About Electricity

Age-appropriate conversations and activities can help them understand it… and stay safe

When it comes to the youngest members of your household, do you know what they know? About electricity and how to stay safe, that is?

Children are curious about how things work, which is why Clarksdale Public Utilities encourages you to have age-appropriate family conversations about electricity and let them know it encompasses so much more than charging devices or playing video games.

“Our kids are exposed to electricity even before they realize how it works,” said Curtis D. Boschert, CPU general manager. “They know we tell them to stay away from outlets, that phones and tablets do not work unless they are plugged in on a regular basis, or that the refrigerator keeps food and drinks cold. Introducing the topic of electricity at a young age, and expanding the conversation as they grow older, is the best way to teach them how to respect it and stay safe.”

Planning fun and meaningful activities is a good way for you to brush up on your own knowledge so you can be a better resource. What’s more, those types of activities help children better understand and retain information, and can encourage further dialogue. Let’s take a look.

Younger Kids
As babies and toddlers, our children have been taught not to touch or put anything into outlets, and have seen the protective covers installed to prevent them from doing just that. But as they begin asking questions about the world around them, you can start to demonstrate electricity in ways they can understand. One such way is by producing static buildup.

Idea: Blow up a balloon and tie it closed. Vigorously rub the inflated balloon on your clothing. Hold the balloon next to a wall and watch as it sticks thanks to the imbalance of positive and negatively charged electrons. You also can make your hair stand up by holding the charged balloon next to it.

Older Kids
Once kids get older, you can step up the lessons to include how electricity is generated and distributed to our homes and businesses, and how safety always should be the No. 1 priority.

Idea: Build a simple circuit to demonstrate how electricity flows using a light bulb, battery, wire, electrical tape and a knife. Begin by using the knife to strip 1/2 inch of each end of two 6-inch sections of wire. Tape one end of one of the wire sections to the shiny silver side of the light bulb base and tape the other end of the same wire to the negative pole of the battery. (Be sure to use the right voltage battery to power the bulb.) Tape one end of the second wire to the positive pole of the battery. Then safely touch the other end of the second wire to the bottom of the light bulb. Once you have done that, the circuit is complete and the bulb should light up.

“When it comes to CPU’s equipment and power lines, make sure your kids know that all lines are considered energized and dangerous, whether running from pole to pole or on the ground after a storm,” added Boschert. “Teach them that just because they cannot see any apparent danger does not mean there is not any. Staying far away means staying safe.”

For more information and resources, visit the Energy Kids website provided by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. There you will find science of electricity basics, more activity and experiment ideas, as well as how electricity is generated, distributed and measured.

Clarksdale Public Utilities is a municipally owned utility serving approximately 6,800 homes and businesses in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Its mission is to safely provide sustainable electric, water and wastewater services in a reliable and courteous manner by well-trained team members, committed to top quality, efficient operations, competitive rates and the vitality of the community.

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For more than 125 years, Clarksdale Public Utilities has supplied utility services that support our community’s growth, vibrance and quality of life. But we are more than a provider of reliable and affordable electric, water and wastewater services — we are your family, friends and neighbors. We are people who care. We are CPU.

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