Conductivity Meter

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In this activity, learners build a simple qualitative conductivity tester with a battery, bulb and foil. Then learners use the device to test if a solution, a series of solutions, and a solution with an electroplate conducts electrical currents. If the solution lights the bulb, learners will know it contains electrolytes (charged particles).

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
1 to 2 hours

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Christmas lights
  • Aluminum foil
  • 9V battery
  • Popsicle/craft stick or plastic knife
  • Wire strippers or scissors
  • Tape
  • Cups
  • Water
  • Salt or other ionic solution to test
  • Stainless steel wire instead of aluminum foil (optional)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Circuits
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Solutions
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Atomic Structure
      • Elements and Periodic Table
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • see color
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Muller, Eric


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2006