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Scholastic Parents: The Learning Toolkit

Kid Maker How-To: Make a Salt Water Battery

Is your child looking for a science project? Try this idea for a DIY battery.
on February 26, 2014

A battery works when electricity is produced by something called an oxidation/reduction (redox) reaction.  

In this project, you and your child (adult supervision is required) use two different metals and some salty liquid to create a redox reaction.  One metal will oxidize and lose electrons.  The other will reduce and gain electrons in the process. These reactions can result produce toxic chemicals, so use these precautions:
•    Wash hands before and after experimenting with batteries and electrolytic cells.
•    Experiment only in a well-ventilated space.
•    Wear latex or nitrile gloves.
•    Do not reuse containers you use in this project for food or other non-science purposes.

What Does That Mean?
A redox reaction is a chemical reaction involving the transfer of electrons.  It's what's happening when metal rusts, fires start, photosynthesis happens in plants, and we breathe by inhaling oxygen and exhaling carbon dioxide.

Materials & Tools
Nonmetallic jar or bowl  (glass or plastic)
Different types of metal objects: paper clips, coins, nails and screws, etc.

Alligator Clips

Step 1:  Make Salt Water
Pour 2 cups of water into your jar or bowl.  Pour 1 tbsp. of salt into the water and mix until dissolved.

Step 2:  Set Up Your Leads
Connect one alligator clip to one metal object and connect a second clip to a second metal object.

Dip the objects into the salt water.  Don't let the alligator clips touch the salt water.  

Step 3:  Testing
Attach the clips to your volt meter and see how much voltage the battery is producing.

Step 3:  Iteration
Try different combinations of metals and liquids to see what results you get.


About this blog

In the Learning Toolkit blog, get quick and easy tips on how to support your child’s learning at home. From arts and crafts activities to conducting science experiments, we offer simple and fun ways to support your learner’s development at every age and stage.

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