Electricity can be very complex, but it doesn't have to be! In fact, it's so simple we can generate electricity with a small cup of saltwater. This project is a great introductory project to electricity and is ideal for middle schoolers all the way to high school seniors. If you're using this in a classroom setting, please view the attached documents for a lesson plan, lab guide, and post lab assignment. The lesson plan is meant for students aged 14-18.
For each group, you'll need:
An Eight oz. Plastic Cup
180 mL of Water
30 grams of salt
2 pieces of ten cm. Conductive Wire (Copper works best)
A stirring rod or spoon
2 Alligator Clips
Optional: Scotch Tape
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.
Step 1: Add Saltwater to the Cup
Begin by making sure your plastic cup is empty and clean. Pour in the water, and add the salt. Using a stirring rod or spoon, gently mix the solution until the salt is fully dissolved.
Step 2: Thread the Wires Through the Alligator Clips
Thread the wire through the holes in the end of the alligator clip. Wrap the wire around the base to ensure that the wire stays in contact with the clip. Do this with both clips.
Step 3: Insert Your Wires
Once the salt has dissolved, insert the wire into your cup of saltwater. The wires shouldn't touch each other and should only come in contact with the water and the cup. If you're struggling making the wires stay apart from one another, tape the wires to the inside of the cup.
Step 4: Attach the Multimeter
Make sure the multimeter is turned on. The multimeter should be set to DCV 20. Attach the red cable to one clip, and the black cable to the other clip.
Step 5: Watch Your Current
Tada! You successfully created a battery and an electrical current! The multimeter should show that there's an electric current flowing through it. Although there isn't much to watch, you will see the display on the multimeter change. If enough of the batteries are joined together they could potentially power a small light.
You can take the experiment further by changing the salt to water ratios and recording which one produces the most voltage, experimenting with different wire materials, or using a fluid other than water.
Please take the time to view the attached documents if you wish to integrate this into a lesson plan.
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