A Kitchen Museum of Electrical History


Guericke’s electrical generator using a small jar and Lego. I used my ‘rough calloused hands’ to charge the glass (as Guericke did).

Since Easter I have been reading about electricity. I think it is the hardest topic to teach. Circuits are often frustrating: bulbs blow, cells run down, connecting wires have loose connections, one group takes all of the good wires…. And the rest is models, maths and abstract nouns.

A narrative route into electricity is a totally different approach, but I still wanted to have practical work. So I am making a Museum of Electrical History in my kitchen.

My exhibits are based on the texts for my book (so far, The Versorium Needle and Guericke’s Sulphur Sphere).

Proving the ancient Greek belief that amber cannot attract dried basil incorrect.
William Gilbert’s electrometer – the versorium.
leaf ekectroscope
A leaf electroscope – a more modern version of Gilbert’s versorium.


  1. Love this! Great way to make the practical aspects accessible. After all, if you can make it in the kitchen, you’d hope teachers (or lab techs) could do it in school.

    Will there be instructions on how to make them? Short youtube videos of the kit in action would be good too 🙂


  2. I’ve been taking photos as I go, so I guess I should turn them into instructions. I’m moving on to Oersted and Faraday next. Will struggle with a Crooke’s tube. Not sure about twitching frogs’ legs either!


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