Creative Sparks: How Electricity Began

National Curriculum Science Area: Science

Key Stage: 3 and 4

Length of session: 1–2 hours

Maximum group size: 25–50 students

This session introduces students to the early ideas about electricity and experiments in the 18th century, when electricity was still considered a magical phenomenon. These include theories about electrostatic charge and the nature of lightning.

The session begins with an object trail to encourage students to think about the different types of objects and their uses. This is followed by demonstrations of early electrostatic experiments, including popular experiments conducted in the 18th century for entertainment. Students will hear the story of Benjamin Franklin, his discovery of the electrical nature of lightning and the invention of the lightning conductor.

Students will gain insight into the development of new scientific concepts from a historical perspective and how science works.

This session can be linked with a session at the University Museum of Natural History.