Engineering Batteries

Engineering Batteries


This activity introduces students to electrochemistry. Students create a multicell battery using common household materials. In preparation for the activity, students learn about the battery’s inventor, its design, and its chemistry. Students are then challenged to assemble a battery of similar concept capable of providing usable electricity. Students test their battery using a professional electric multimeter and demonstrate the produced power by illuminating one or more light-emitting diodes (LED).

The activity shows the principles of oxidation-reduction reactions. Students will discover how different pairs of electrodes and electrolytes can yield a variety of electrical properties. This can serve as the basis for a brief discussion on the challenges scientists face when designing batteries to satisfy specific consumer and industrial energy storage needs. Finally, students will learn about series and parallel circuits by assembling their multicell battery and explore the basic principles and relationships of Ohm’s law.

This activity typically takes at least 1 hour to complete and should be done in one session.

Engineering Batteries is part of the STEM2D Student Activity Series. The content and layout were both developed by the Smithsonian Science Education Center as part of Johnson & Johnson's WiSTEM2D initiative (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics, Manufacturing, and Design), using a template provided by FHI 360 and JA Worldwide. This series includes a suite of interactive and fun, hands-on activities for girls (and boys), ages 5-18, globally.