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On Teaching Electricity Through History

The Science Teacher—Fall 2023 (Volume 90, Issue 7)

By Christine Guy Schnittka

On Teaching Electricity Through History

Electricity is a fascinating phenomenon and one of the most important driving forces in the natural world, and our understanding of it all began with a fossilized lump of tree resin and a mystical rock from ancient Turkey. For the many years that I taught my students about electricity, I took them through a journey of 2,000 years of discovery instead of using the standard lab activities in their textbook. In this article, I describe the activities we did in class to re-create the discoveries in history, and primary sources are cited in Table 1 (see Online Connections) so that science teachers can access these documents and students can read the words of the long-ago scientists for themselves. These activities are safe and accessible for high school students and are described here so that science teachers can teach electricity concepts throughout history to their students. Each investigation takes about 45 minutes of class time.

Engineering Interdisciplinary Physical Science Technology

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