Looking for a really cool and practice science experiment for kids? Your kids will be wowed and amazed at this how to make a battery science project! This homemade battery experiment is a great introduction to electricity for kids and only uses a couple simple materials to allow children to understand how batteries work while trying a battery experiment. This battery science project is perfect for first grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, 5th grade, and 6th graders too. Even parents, homeschoolers, and teachers will enjoy this electricity experiments for kids.
How to make a battery science project
Harnessing the power of electricity is truly one of mankind’s greatest achievements. From indoor lighting to smartphones, being able to use electrical energy to our advantage has completely changed the course of human history. This how to make a battery science project provides kids with a simple, inexpensive way to create their own homemade battery experiment using materials that are likely already in their home (pennies, aluminum foil, paper towels, vinegar, and duct tape). With an inexpensive LED, kids can use their homemade batteries to power a useful device and feel some of the excitement that early inventors must have felt over two hundred years ago. Try this battery science project with grade 1, grade 2, grade 3, grade 4, grade 5, and grade 6 elementary age and middle school students.
Electricity experiments for kids
Electricity is a form of energy that comes from charged particles. In nearly all electrical devices, negatively charged particles called electrons flow along a wire to create a current which is used to power the device. A wire that is not connected to a power source has no reason to create an electrical current. When batteries are connected within a circuit, electrons want to flow from the negative electrode (called the anode) to the positive electrode (called the cathode) creating the current that will power the load.
Within a battery, a separator is placed between anode and cathode to keep the electrons from flowing directly from one electrode to the other, forcing the electrons to flow along the external wire and power our devices. Another substance, called an electrolyte, is also placed between the anode and cathode. The electrolyte promotes the chemical reactions which will cause the anode to become negatively charged and the cathode to become positively charged. In this simple homemade experiment the anode is the aluminum foil, the cathode is the penny, the separator is the paper towel, and the electrolyte is the vinegar.
How to make a homemade battery
All you need are a few simple materials to try this homemade battery:
- Pennies (at least 5 if you would like to use your batteries to light up an LED)
- Aluminum foil (only a small amount, about a foot (~1/3 meter) of length is needed)
- Paper towels (about 1 square)
- Vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar, but the type is not important. Could also use lemon juice or salt water. You only need a small amount.)
- Duct tape
- LED (optional, but the activity is more fun if you have something to power. I used a green LED which only required 2 volts to light. Some LEDs may require more.)
- Alligator clips (optional, makes it easy to connect battery in a circuit, but could also use strips of aluminum foil instead. I only used 2.)
- Voltmeter (optional, but makes the activity more meaningful if the child can measure how much voltage their battery produces.)
Homemade Battery Experiment
To make your homemade battery, first tear a square piece of aluminum foil about 3 inches (8 cm) per side. Exact dimensions are not important.
Fold the aluminum foil into a square about 1 inch (2.5 cm) on each side. Again, exact size is not important, but the square piece of aluminum foil should be a little bigger than a penny.
Battery science project
Rip a piece of paper towel about the same size as the aluminum foil and fold it into a similarly sized square.
Next, rip a piece of duct tape that is about the same width as the paper towel (or slightly bigger).
Layer the penny, paper towel square, and aluminum foil squares on top of the duct tape. The penny should stick out from the duct tape slightly. Line up the paper towel with the duct tape edge on the penny side (and be completely covered on the other side). The aluminum foil should hang over the other end of the duct tape and should not touch the penny at all.
How to make a battery
Fold over the duct tape to hold the 3 layers together to make your DIY Battery. The front and back of your battery should look like this:
Battery science project
Finally, add a few drops of vinegar to the paper towel to act as the electrolyte. Your battery is complete.
If you have a voltmeter, connect the positive, red lead to the copper penny and the negative, black lead to the aluminum foil. Turn the dial to the lowest voltage setting. Your battery should measure in the vicinity of half a volt.
Homemade battery science experiment
If you would like to light up an LED, you will need to make about 5 batteries. Depending on your particular LED, you may need more or fewer.
How to make a homemade battery
Connect your batteries in series by attaching the penny of one battery to the aluminum foil of the next with duct tape.
Use alligator clips to attach the ends of your battery series to the LED. Remember that an LED is directional. You will most likely need to attach the long leg of the LED to the penny end. Then attach the short leg to the aluminum foil, but if it does not work, try switching the leads.
You can use your hands or some other heavy object (like a banana) to make sure all connections are firmly in place.
How cool is that!
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