Education Technology

You'll Get a Charge Out of This!

Activity Overview

In this activity, students make a battery using different fruits and vegetables, a copper penny, and a zinc washer. They use a voltage probe to collect data on voltage and compare the values of different batteries.

Before the Activity

  • Install the CBL/CBR Application on the students' graphing calculators using TI Connect™ or a TI-GRAPH LINK™
  • Connect the TI-73 to the CBL 2™ unit
  • Connect the voltage probe to the CH1 port of the CBL
  • See the attached PDF file for detailed instructions for this activity
  • Print pages 163 - 178 from the attached PDF file for your class
  • During the Activity

    Distribute the pages to your class.

    Follow the Activity procedures:

  • Create slits 1 cm apart in the item tested as battery makers
  • Insert the copper penny and zinc washer into the slits
  • Connect the positive lead to the penny and negative to the zinc
  • Observe the readings on the calculator
  • Repeat the activity with the other fruits/vegetables and by placing the electrodes at different distances
  • Plot a graph of voltage readings versus type of electrolyte
  • For each battery set up collect readings every 99 seconds for a period of nearly 3 hours
  • Observe the plot of voltage versus time and examine the rate of change in voltage over time
  • Create a manual fit for this data
  • Identify the item that made the best battery and the battery with the most staying power
  • After the Activity

    Students will complete the Data Collection and Analysis Sheet and answer questions listed in it.

    Review student results:

  • As a class, discuss questions that appeared to be more challenging
  • Re-teach concepts as necessary