?  Library of Wonders The Wonder of Sound

Can I generate electricity too?

Of course you can. As you saw on the page about how to generate electricity, electricity is made when you turn a magnet near a coil of metal wire.

The idea is shown in the picture. Just place a magnet over a coil and spin the magnet around the coil. If you spin the magnet by hand, electricity will be generated. The faster you spin, the stronger the electricity. But it’s hard to keep the magnet spinning all the time. Is there anything you know that spins around and around every day? How about bicycle wheels? When you ride a bicycle at night, the spinning of the wheel is used to power the bicycle’s light. That is, in fact, a generator that makes electricity.

When you press the generator’s roller against the wheel, the spinning wheel turns the roller, which turns the coil inside the generator. The bicycle’s light glows because of the electricity made by the generator. When the roller presses against the wheel, you can feel it’s a little harder to pedal than normal. The harder you pedal, the stronger the electricity and the brighter the light. It’s simple, right! A small device that generates electricity in this way is called a dynamo. Another familiar example of a generator that uses a dynamo is a hand-crank flashlight. By turning the crank around and around many times, the spinning generates electricity that powers the light. A hand-crank flashlight is very useful when the power goes out due to a storm or emergency, although your hands will get tired keeping the light on for a long time. Wind turbines for homes are also sold. You will likely see more and more of them in the future. There are also portable generators that look like car engines that turn coils to generate electricity for outdoor food stalls. Look for them the next time you are at an outdoor festival or fair.