Build a Basic Battery
Hosted by: UT Austin Longhorn Energy Club
Visit our Booth: Saturday, March 6, 2021, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Build a basic battery and explore the basics of electricity and circuits!
Recommended Grade Levels: 2nd, 3rd, 4th
- 5 pieces of copper wire
- 5 nails
- Plastic ice cube tray
- Distilled white vinegar
- LED bulb
The Challenge: Create a battery to power a small LED bulb!
Make sure that you have adult supervision while doing this project. This is a chaperoned event.
1. Wrap the bare copper wire 5 times around the upper part of one of the galvanized nails.
2. Repeat the above step for all 5 nails.
3. Fill 6 wells of the ice tray with distilled white vinegar.
4. Place a nail in each of the wells of the tray. A circuit is created by making sure that the copper wire attached to each nail is in contact with the vinegar of the adjacent well. The last well will have only the copper wire from the previous well in it.
5. Place the LED such that its leads are in the first and final well; the first well contains the nail while the last well contains only copper wire.
6. If the LED does not light up switch the position of the legs of the LED. LEDs are polarity sensitive devices and only allow current to flow through them in one direction.
Take a picture or video of your design and share on Flipgrid.
If you don't have the materials available to complete this project or you need help visualizing the project, you can watch a short demo below.
How does this activity connect to STEM and today's Girl Day theme of Exploring Earth and Energy?
We use a lot of energy in the form of electricity! Just by looking around the room you're in, you can probably spot several examples of electricity in action. Batteries are a crucial part of energy systems, because they are a way to store energy when it isn't being used.
This project is an example of a voltaic battery, which converts chemical energy into electrical energy. The two metal components are electrodes, the parts of a battery where electrical current enters and leaves the battery. With a zinc and copper set-up, the current will flow out of the wire and into the nail. The electricity also passes through the acidic solution inside the tray wells.
If you don't have the materials available to complete this project or you need help visualizing the project, you can watch a short demo in the video below.