Youngsters Ask the Hard Questions about Electricity
Over the last few years, I have been asked some “out of the box” questions about electricity and electrical safety by elementary school students. Here are a few questions we have all secretly wondered, but only children are brave enough to ask:
Q: Why can a bird stand on a power line and not get shocked?
A: It is easier for electricity to keep flowing through the powerline than to go through the bird. Electricity is always trying to find the fastest path to the ground. If electricity comes to an object it cannot go through to get to ground than it most likely will not go through it. However, if a bird touches a power line and a tree, another wire or power pole at the same time, it provides electricity with a path to the ground and the bird could be shocked.
Q: Can I use a cellphone or tablet in the shower or bath?
A: Please don’t. Water is a great conductor of electricity and so is the human body. An electrical device, especially plugged in a wall outlet, can be exposed to the water and cause the electricity to travel through the water and your body.
Q: Why don’t I get shocked when I touch a battery?
A: There is not enough voltage in a regular household battery to cause a shock. Stronger batteries can be powerful enough to shock you, so you should never tamper with them.
Q: Can we use electric eels to generate electricity?
A: Electric eels do generate electricity by using chemicals in their body. A large electric eel can produce a charge of up to 650 volts, which is five times the shocking power of a household outlet. According to a Santee Cooper engineer, it would (theoretically) take about six large electric eels that can constantly produce 2,000 watts to power the average home.
Q: Can I run faster than electricity?
A: If you can run faster than about 186,000 miles per second, then yes you can.
Some of these questions and many more can be answered on Santee Cooper’s interactive, learning website for students, teachers and parents at www.santeecooperkids.com.