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Activity Overview

In this activity, students will create a timeline that demonstrates their understanding of how ideas about electricity have changed. This is a great way to look at how the scientific method works in the real world. You can highlight how science needs scientists to collaboratively work together to share findings to further human understanding as well as how scientific discoveries can directly benefit the human race and lead to important inventions. Students should aim to select at least six of these contributors to include in their timeline.

Important People in the History of Electricity

  • Thales of Miletus (624-546 BC)
  • William Gilbert (1544-1603)
  • Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
  • Thomas Seebeck (1770-1831)
  • Joseph Priestley (1773-1804)
  • Henry Cavendish (1731-1810)
  • Charles de Coulomb (1736-1806)
  • Luigi Galvani (1737-1798)
  • Alessandro Volta (1745-1827)
  • André-Marie Ampère (1775-1836)
  • Humphry Davy (1778-1829)
  • Georg Ohm (1789-1854)
  • Daniell Cell (1790-1845)
  • Michael Faraday (1971-1867)
  • Charles Wheatstone (1802-1875)
  • Joseph Swan (1828-1914)
  • James Wimshurst (1832-1903)
  • Thomas Edison (1847-1931)
  • Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922)
  • Joseph John Thomson (1856-1940)
  • Nikola Tesla (1856-1943)
  • Willem Einthoven (1860-1927)
  • Robert Van De Graaff (1901-1967)

For an alternative to the timeline layout, have students create a timeline poster to incorporate into a presentation or gallery walk. You can add more than one template to this assignment to give students lots of options and adjust the instructions accordingly.

Extended Activity

Have students do more in depth research into one of the scientists of their choosing and create a biography poster that details their life and their important contributions to science. Students can present their work to the class in a regular presentation format, or they can be hung in the room for a gallery walk!

Template and Class Instructions

(These instructions are completely customizable. After clicking "Copy Activity", update the instructions on the Edit Tab of the assignment.)

Student Instructions

Create a timeline that demonstrates your understanding of how and why ideas of electricity have changed over time

  1. Click "Start Assignment".
  2. Add additional cells as needed.
  3. Choose six people or moments in the history of science that you think are the most important in our understanding of electricity.
  4. Write a title and the year for these six moments using the timeline.
  5. Illustrate the moment with a cell using a combination of scenes, characters, and items.
  6. Write a couple of sentences to describe the moment and why it is important.

Lesson Plan Reference


(You can also create your own on Quick Rubric.)

Discovery Timelime Assignment
Proficient Emerging Beginning
All the cells are clearly described with details of the significance of the milestone.
All the cells are clearly described.
Some cells are described
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate all five of the chosen historical moments.
The storyboard cells clearly illustrate some of the five chosen historical moments.
The storyboard cells does not clearly any of the five chosen historical moments.
Evidence of Effort
Work is well written and carefully thought out.
Work shows some evidence of effort.
Work shows little evidence of any effort.

Image Attributions
  • Wooden Board. • Knut Burmeister • License Attribution (
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