Learning Aims:
  • Understanding the basic principles of electrochemical cell as a voltage source
  • Discovering which combination of materials produce a voltage
  • Distinguishing between the chargeable and non-chargeable batteries and main differences between these two types of batteries

Coins of different metal, salt solution (acid, alkaline solution eventually), paper tissue, lemon, alligator clips, scalpel, graphite pencil (C), iron nail (Fe), magnesium strip (Mg), zinc strip (Zn), led strips, beaker for electrolysis, sulphuric acid solution (10%), power supply (6V), two-way switch, interface and software (e.g. CMA Coach6), voltage sensor (if computer with interface is not available, voltmeter can be used)

Suggestions for use:

Divide the class into small groups of 2-3 and hand out Classroom Material: Build your own battery.

The first two activities are aimed at constructing primary cells made from simple materials which can be carried out in groups as guided inquiry activities. If time or materials are limited, each group could investigate different combinations of materials and then bring all the findings together with a concluding classroom discussion.

The third activity is focused on building a secondary cell which can be carried out as an interactive experiment presented by the teacher who carries out voltage measurement during charging and discharging with the help of voltage sensor connected to the computer (or voltmeter). Students can use their worksheets to record the findings. While doing the experiment, teacher interacts with students to discuss and answer the questions in the worksheet. These activities are good examples to point the industrial content.

Batteries are devices that students often use so this is a good starting point to attract their attention and continue investigation and inquiry. The environmental aspects can be also mentioned about the batteries disposal and their recycling.

Possible Questions:
  • How is the electrical energy produced in an electrochemical cell?
  • What is the difference between the primary and the secondary cell?
  • What is the basic physical principle of the primary cell?
  • What is the basic physical principle of the secondary cell?
  • What are the applications of batteries in everyday life?
  • What are the environmental aspects of the use of batteries?