Currently Working: Testing Conductivity

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Visitors test solutions of water, sugar, salt, and hydrochloric acid and the solids salt and sugar. They clip leads from the hand generator to wires immersed in each substance. If the substance is conductive, the fan turns. Visitors learn that only certain substances conduct electricity. They also learn that the physical state of a substance (solid or solution) affects its conductivity.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Learning Time:
Under 5 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per group of students

Age Range:
Ages 6 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • One six-well culture plate
  • 4 ft copper wire, 10 or 12 gauge
  • One 6-volt Heavy Duty lantern battery (keep several on hand)
  • One small electric motor with a propeller on a wooden stand
  • Copper strip attached to the base of the propeller stand
  • Four 250-ml squeeze bottles
  • One 1-tbsp measuring spoon
  • Na2SO4 (sodium sulfate) (keep 1 Ib on hand)
  • C12H22O11 (granulated sugar) (keep 1 Ib on hand)
  • 0.5M HCl (hydrochloric acid) (keep 1 L on hand) —OR— concentrated HCl (12.1M) (keep 100 ml on hand)
  • One 10-ml plastic graduated cylinder
  • Superglue
  • One hot-glue gun (general storage)
  • One sheet each red, blue, green and white construction paper.


  • Engineering and Technology
    • Engineering
      • Chemical Engineering
    • Technology
  • Physical Sciences
    • Chemistry
      • Solutions
    • States of Matter
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
  • The Nature of Science
    • Science and Society
  • The Nature of Technology
    • Technology and Society
      • Technology and the Environment


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Source:

  • National Science Foundation