When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemon Batteries!
By: Evelyn Phoenix
This month, Phoenix has chosen to study electricity for science. We have been reading some pretty awesome books about electricity (check out the recommended reading below), and I am unashamed to say that I am just as excited as he is about all that we have been learning! In addition to great books, we also have some super cool hands-on projects lined up.
Our first experiment involved powering a mini alarm clock with two lemons. This project provided an interactive introduction to how circuits work, and it also showed him how something simple like fruit can be used as a power source.
We began this project with two lemons, mini zinc and copper metal sheets with connecting wires, and a mini alarm clock. There are kits available to do this experiment, but you really don’t need one if you have materials comparable to the ones I listed. The lemons can easily be substituted with apples, potatoes, etc.
After making sure he had an understanding of what exactly a circuit is and what we needed to create one, I had him identify the parts of our circuit in a little pre-lab assessment. I gave him
3 3 x5 cards – one labeled energy source, one labeled connectors, and one labeled output device. He then had to label our materials according to which part of the circuit they would fulfill. I thought this was an important step because while I want him to have fun, I want him to have understanding even more so.
Next we inserted the 2 metal sheets- one copper and one zinc, into each lemon about 1 inch apart.
After that, we connected the alligator clamps to the wire without the alarm clock- making sure there was a red clamp on one end and a black clamp on the other. We connected these to the metal sheets putting the red clamp onto the copper, and the black one onto the zinc.
Finally, we added red and black clamps to ends of the wires of the alarm clock and connected them to the remaining metal sheets following the same manner as before. The result?
Pretty cool, eh? Phoenix’s mind was blown, and frankly, mine was too! He’s eager to try this experiment with other fruits/ vegetables as power sources to see the outcome. Moreover, he’s developed quite the passion for power! This was a simple project, but it made a big impact. Phoenix was really impressed to see that 11 hours after we did the project, the clock was still ticking. We are just getting started with our electricity unit, and we can’t wait start tackling some more advanced projects with Snap Circuits!! If you don't know what these are, stay tuned, because I will be covering them in my next blog post.
Have you tried the lemon battery experiment? Have you done any cool electricity projects that you would like to recommend? Please share! I’d love to hear from you.
World Book: Building Blocks of Science- Electricity
This book is adorable and written in comic book format. My son really enjoys reading it, and it simplifies the concept of electricity in a way that a 7 year old can understand.
You Wouldn’t Want to Live Without Electricity- Ian Graham
This is a great book, provides an overview of electricity. However, not too many children’s books on this topic cover Lewis Latimer, the African American scientist who helped create the lightbulb and the telephone.
This popular experiment is explained on many different websites. For more information, do check out the following: