Electricity - A Brief History

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Students will learn about the people and events that resulted in the discovery and implementation of electricity.

Big Idea

Students will understand who was influential in discovering electricity and how it was mandated for all Americans.

RAP - Review and Preview

5 minutes

I call students to the gathering area and I tell them that today they are going to learn a little piece of information about electricity. They will be responsible for teaching the class this information and helping to put together the pieces of the puzzle that is electricity.

I hand each student a sheet of paper with a jigsaw puzzle piece on it. These sheets are for taking notes. I also have previously copied the same puzzle piece onto cardstock and cut them out for the final draft for each group.

I tell students that I will be assigning them to a group and a topic. They will research this topic online and make notes as they learn. They will then meet as a group and decide what is the most important information to present. Once that is done, they will write the important information on their cardstock puzzle piece for their presentation to the class.

I tell students that after we are done, we will piece the puzzle together. (Note, that these puzzle pieces will go together, but will not make a complete puzzle. This is intentional as this information does not provide a complete information set of electricity, but is an emerging picture of what we know.)

Guided Investigation

40 minutes

I assign students to 6 different groups, each with their own question:

  1. Who were the first people to play a significant role in electrical discoveries? What did they do?
  2. Who played an influential role in the development of electrical power?
  3. How has the development of electricity changed the way we live?
  4. What was the AC/DC debate about?
  5. Who were the key players supporting DC? AC?
  6. How did America get electrified?


Answers to the questions: FOR YOU

  1. B. Franklin, T. Edison, N. Tesla, Westinghouse
  2. G. Westinghouse, JP Morgan, Insull, Roosevelt, Norris
  3. Automation, cleaner lighting, transport of food, air conditioning, etc.
  4. Has to do with safety, ease of changing voltage levels to transport long distances
  5. Edison/Morgan promoted DC, Tesla/Westinghouse promoted AC. 
  6. TVA and REA were acts passed by Congress in the 1930’s and signed into law by FDR.

Websites for students to visit are:












Most of the questions can be answered using these links. Students will use their individual note-taking graphic organizer to write notes as they learn the answer to their questions. After about 15 minutes of study, groups will meet together and share their information. This will be done using a Kagan Placemat graphic organizer. Each individual student will enter his/her information into a corner space. After all information has been entered, students will share their information. Once all information has been shared, students will choose the most important 3-4 points from their learning. This information will be written into the center rectangle. Once students have agreed on the information they would like to share, each group meets with me. If I find their information lacking, I can send them to a website to find more information, or I can help edit for grammar and spelling. Once the information is complete, I give each group a puzzle piece made from cardstock. They write their question and answer onto it to use in their classroom presentations.

Class Presentation/Discussion

15 minutes

I call students back to the gathering area and each group presents their information to the class. As they complete their presentation, they add their puzzle piece to a poster board, using tape. This puzzle starts to come together as each of the groups present.

After the presentations, I tell students that we will add puzzle pieces to this puzzle as we learn more about electricity. Each new learning, will be added so that we have a larger puzzle by the end. This poster will serve as an anchor poster for our learning.


1 minutes

Students will be assessed for their individual work completeness using their notes. Students will be assessed for their group work completeness using the placemat.

Students will be assessed for their oral presentation based on their presentation to the class.