When you turn on a light in your home, electricity flows through wires up to the light bulb and makes it glow. Lots of things in your house use electricity. Your television set, the telephone, clocks, and stereos are just a few of the things that use electricity. But where does the electricity come from?
Big wires carry electricity to your home. If you live in a house, you can probably see these wires running from somewhere outside your house up to a telephone pole. In an apartment building or in a big city, the wires might be buried so you can't see them. These wires go miles and miles to a big power plant that makes the electricity. Most of the electricity in the United States is made at power plants that burn things like coal or natural gas. The power plants use the heat from burning things to make electricity.
I have a new way to make electricity. The solar panels on my house make electricity from the sun. Whenever the sun is up, even when it's cloudy, my solar panels turn the sunlight into electricity. Instead of a big wire that goes miles away, I just need a wire that goes up to my roof. My house makes its own electricity!
You can build solar cars and other toys that make electricity from the sun. Look for solar toys in electronics stores or toy stores, or you can order them from scientific supply catalogs. These toys use small solar cells to make electricity, so they don't need batteries! There are hundreds of these solar cells built into the solar panels on my roof.
Not many people have solar panels on their roofs right now, but you'll be seeing a lot more of them as you grow older. The President of the United States has promised to help put a million solar hot water collectors and solar panels on roofs by the year 2010. How old will you be then?