How Things Work

Assignment) Create a 3D model of the topic you’ve chosen. It may be made out of popsicle sticks, papier mâché, lego, software such as SketchUp, etc. Label the parts & provide a written explanation of the following questions.

#1) Form & Function) What are its main parts & what do the parts do? How does it use/generate electricity? How do electrons move through it?

The 3 main components of the electric eel that take up 4/5 of its body are the organs: the Sachs, Main & Hunter’s organs.

The Sachs organ is used to locate prey, maneuver & communicate with electrolocation, as the eel has weak vision. The electric eel creates an electric charge of under 10V that is rebounded back by passing objects & identified by electro-receptors on its skin.

The Main & Hunter’s organs are used to create an electric shock to stun prey. Once its prey is located using the Sachs organ, the electric eel’s brain delivers a signal through the nervous system to the electric cells. This opens the ion passage, allowing positively charged sodium to flow, which reverses the charge temporarily. The immediate change in voltage creates current. Like a battery, the electric eel contains electroplaques in series that create electric charge. 6, 000 electroplaques can create a 600V & 1A shock. Once its prey is temporarily stunned, the electric eel opens its mouth to create suction & sucks its prey into its mouth.

#2) Social Implications) How might people be affected? Consider less developed countries & locations with different climates/geography.

The electric eel doesn’t harm humans as much as its prey: mainly fish but also amphibians, birds & small mammals. It’s rare for a human to die from the shock of an electric eel, although it has been known to knock a horse off its feet. Although humans don’t usually die from the shock of an electric eel, multiple can cause respiratory/heart failure. Sometimes people drown in shallow water after being shocked.

Humans are discovering ways to harness the electric eel’s electricity. For countries such as Brazil, the electric eel’s environment, people could use this new source of electricity to their advantage. This electricity is renewable & environmentally friendly, as it comes from the environment.

#3) Ethical Implications) What is morally right/wrong?

Harnessing the electric eel’s electricity would require keeping the eel in captivity such as an aquarium. It’s not right to take animals from their natural habitat & keep them in captivity claiming to “save them.” There are also other forms of renewable & environmentally friendly electricity such as hydroelectricity, wind electricity & solar electricity. We can use these forms of electricity instead of keeping the electric eel, a living creature, in captivity.

#4) Environmental Implications

Keeping the electric eel in captivity to harness its electricity could affect the environment severely. If this form of electricity becomes popular, many people will keep electric eels in captivity to use for electricity. The more electric eels in captivity, the less in their natural habitat. The electric eel could become endangered, even extinct as aquariums aren’t the right place for wildlife. If there is no electric eel in the food chain of their ecosystem, their predators will decrease & their prey will increase, leaving an unbalanced ecosystem.

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