Applied Science - Technology (3B)

  • Investigating the electrical requirements of small appliances.
  • Exploring amperes, watts, and volts.


  • ampere
  • electricity
  • volt
  • watt
  • small appliances
  • (recommend can opener, toaster, coffee maker, electric calculator, pencil sharpener, any other electrical apparatus available at the school)

Students determine how much electricity an appliance uses.


Students have heard the words volt, watt, and amps, but few know what they refer to. These terms all have to do with the flow of electricity. A volt is a force of electricity that goes through a conductor. For instance, a 1.5 volt battery has less force than a 6-volt battery. Houses in the United States have 110 volts coming through the wall socket which is much more force than the batteries. Students are told not to play with the sockets in the wall because of this extra force. Volt is named after Alessandro Volta, an Italian physicist.

An ampere is the measurement of electric current, named after Andre Marie Ampere, a French physicists. Fuses are designed to carry so many amperes. When a system carries too much amperage, it will "blow a fuse." This happens when too many amperes go through the system and this alerts you to decrease power usage.

A watt is the measurement of power. A 100-watt bulb is brighter than a 30-watt bulb. It was named for James Watt, a Scottish engineer and inventor. Many times you will see the term hertz on electrical appliances. This refers to the frequency of the current going through in a cycle. Hertz was named for a German physicist.

  1. For the first exercise, find several appliances where the students can find either the watts or volts and amps the appliance uses.
  2. Students may bring in small electrical appliances for this exercise. The more the watts or volts or amps, the more electricity is used.
  3. Have students determine which appliance uses the most energy. This will depend on the appliances you have. Volts and amps are related to watts: watts = volts x amperes. Have students record the watts, volts and amperes that they determine from the appliance.

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