Episode 1: Electricity Basics

[ Music ]

[ A large title appears: "Electricity Basics". A smaller title appears under it: "How does electricity...get to my lights?" ]

>> I want to know, how does...

>> electricity...

>> get to my lights?

[ Five kids gather around a colorful model of a town. One boy carries in a portable studio light and sets it up nearby. ]

>> Whatcha doing?

>> We're trying to figure out how the lights turn on.

>> With the switch?

>> Ha, very funny, Julie.

[ A flashing message appears: "movie set" ]

>> We're trying to find out how the electricity gets to here and turns on the light for our movie set.

>> Oh.

>> You know, I can show you how it gets here. You're not the only one who's smart around here, McKenzie, so pay attention. I don't want you to miss my one moment when I knew something that you didn't. Here we go. Electricity is produced at a power plant. Power plants can make electricity in different ways, by harnessing the energy from moving water, sunshine, heat from the earth, wind, uranium, or fossil fuels.

[ A message appears: "Fossil Fuels = Oil, Coal, Natural Gas ]

>> Once it's been created, the electricity gets pushed out of the power plant through large transmission lines and towers. Transmission towers carry very high-power electricity to substations, where the strength of electricity is reduced so it won't blow up your house when it gets there. You never want to go into a substation, or climb a transmission tower either.

>> Yeah. You'd be toast.

>> Well, really, no one should be touching electricity of any kind. That's really dangerous.

>> From the substation, electricity will travel on the overhead or underground power lines to your home, your school, where your parents work-all these places get their power from your substation.

>> So how does electricity know where it's going?

[ Flashing yellow arrows depict electricity travelling along power lines in a closed loop that includes a power plant, a transmission tower, a substation, a utility pole, and a home. ]

>> All electricity travels in a closed path called a circuit. It will continue to travel this path as long as something doesn't interrupt it.

>> Electricity always tries to get to the earth. It's called grounding.

>> That's right. So if you touch a live circuit, the electricity will travel to the ground.

>> Right through you?

>> Yep, right through you!

>> So if you touch electricity with a part of your body or a ladder or a tool you're holding, then you will conduct electricity to the ground and be seriously hurt, or even killed.

[ A man touches a power line with a ladder. Electricity flows through him to the ground. The universal NO sign appears with a message: "Stay at least 10 feet away from all power lines!" ]

>> And obviously by touching any of these highly charged electrical things...

[ A transmission tower, a substation, a pad-mounted transformer, and a utility pole-mounted transformer appear with universal NO signs flashing on them. ]

>> You'd be toast!

>> It's really amazing that such an easy action like turning on the lights, takes so much work.

>> No kidding, huh.

[ The word "Electricity" appears. ]

>> So now we've learned...

>> where it comes from....

>> how it gets here...

>> and why it's so important to use it safely.

[ Music ]

[ Culver logo and "copyright 2009 Culver Media, LLC" appear, followed by credits.]