Making Electricity
Haskell Elementary

lyrics by the students of Haskell Elementary in Granada Hills, CA
to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”

Dig some coal out of the ground and set the coal on fire
Boil a tank of water so the pressure builds up higher
Pipe the steam across the blades to start a turbine turning
Making electricity with all the coal we’re burning
Fossil fuels are cheap and easy, they’re a good solution (but)
They’re not going to last forever and they make pollution

Wind’s another way to make a turbine start rotation
Turn the magnets and the wires for current generation
Use kinetic energy from wind to make a current
Turning on the lights in all the places where they weren’t
Using wind is safe and clean as long as wind is blowing
But you’ll find your lights are dimmer when the wind is slowing

Build a dam across a river, build a power station
Water through a turbine causes electrification
Water up behind a dam has energy potential
Pipe it out the bottom where the pressure is torrential
Hydroelectric power’s great but now the river’s gone there
Not so awesome for the fish who only want to spawn there

We need electricity to power our devices
All the ways we make it have their virtues and their vices
We can learn about them all and then we’ll raise our voices
Tell our leaders what we’ve learned for making better choices
Making electricity is easy when you know how
That’s the ending of our song; goodbye, we’ve got to go now!

Notes

The fourth graders at Haskell elementary were studying different forms of energy; this song is about some of the ways we generate electricity. Note that the methods described in this song all involve using one form or another of energy to cause a turbine to spin; the rotation of the turbine is what generates electrical current which then goes through wires to the places where we want to use it. You can click here for a five-minute video about how turbines work and how the electric grid brings electricity to your home.

One of the big ideas the kids wanted to convey is that electricity is super convenient, but we need to give some thought to how we make it. If you or your students want to write more verses about other ways to make electricity (solar, nuclear, geothermal, etc.) please send them in and we'll add your verses to our song!

Below are some academic content standards from the NGSS, Common Core, etc. addressed by this song.

Second Grade:
K-2-ETS1-1. Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
K-2-ETS1-2. Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
K-2-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.

Third Grade:
3-PS2-1. Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
3-PS2-3. Ask questions to determine cause and effect relationships of electric or magnetic interactions between two objects not in contact with each other.
3-PS2-2. Define a simple design problem that can be solved by applying scientific ideas about magnets.
3-LS4-4. Make a claim about the merit of a solution to a problem caused when the environment changes and the types of plants and animals that live there may change.
3-ESS3-1. Make a claim about the merit of a design solution that reduces the impacts of a weather-related hazard.

Fourth Grade:
4-PS3-1. Use evidence to construct an explanation relating the speed of an object to the energy of that object.
4-PS3-2. Make observations to provide evidence that energy can be transferred from place to place by sound, light, heat, and electric currents.
4-PS3-4. Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
PS3.A.2. The faster a given object is moving, the more energy it possesses.
PS3.B.3. Energy can be moved from place to place by moving objects or through sound, light, or electric currents.

All Grades:
-Participate in shared research and writing projects (e.g., explore a number of books by a favorite author and express opinions about them).
-Patterns in the natural and human designed world can be observed and used as evidence.
-Scientific Knowledge is Based on Empirical Evidence; scientists look for patterns and order when making observations about the world.