25 Days of STEAM: Making A Battery From Lemons

25 Days of STEAM: Day Twenty-Two

Making A Battery From Lemons

 

This hands-on science activity is a fun way to introduce children to the basics of electricity. We recommend it for children 7 and up!

 

As with all science experiments, safety is extremely important! We always recommend wearing safety goggles. Parent supervision is required.

 

Supplies You’ll Need:

 

  • Two Lemons

 

  • Two Flat Strips of Copper

 

  • Two Flat Strips of Zinc

 

  • A 9-Volt Light Bulb

 

  • Insulated Wire

 

  • Pliers

 

  • Safety Goggles

 

Instructions:

 

  • Place one of the lemons on a tabletop. Insert one copper strip on one end and insert one zinc strip on the other end. Both should lay flat and parallel from the surface of the table.

 

  • Repeat the previous step with the other lemon.

 

  • Measure 8 inches of the insulated wire. Cut the wire. Repeat this step so that you have two 8-inch wires.

 

  • Take one of the 8 inch wires and cut in half.

 

  • Trim the plastic insulation from the ends of the individual wire so that the wires show through.

 

  • Take the longest piece of wire and attach it to one of the points of the light bulb. Then connect the other end of the wire to the zinc strip in one of the lemons.

 

  • Take the small wire and connect it to the copper strip on one lemon. Then connect the other end of that wire to the strip of zinc in the other lemon.

 

  • Make sure you are holding the last bit of wire by the insulation, connect one end to the final piece of copper. Then connect the other end to the other point on the light bulb.

 

What is happening?

 

You should have seen the light bulb light up. If so, that means your lemon battery was generating an electric current. That means tiny electrons were moving along the wires connecting the lemons and the light bulb.

 

By using the two lemons, you were able a type of battery called a voltaic battery. In a voltaic battery, the battery is composed of two different types of metals.  These metals act as electrodes.

 

The lemons are crucial for this type of battery. All voltaic batteries require their metals to be encompassed in an electrolyte. The juice inside the lemons is comprised of electrolytes. When there are not enough electrolytes to interact with the metals of the battery, the battery will stop working.

 

Science Vocabulary:

 

  • Electrical Current – (n.) a path that electrons follow.

 

  • Electrons – (n.) subatomic particles that zoom around an atom’s center and make up the part of the atom that is negatively charged.

 

  • Electrodes – (n.) places where electrons can enter or leave a battery.

 

  • Electrolyte – (n.) a substance that can carry an electrical current when dissolved in water.