Hand Battery

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In this activity about chemistry and electricity, learners form a battery by placing their hands onto plates of different metals. Learners detect the current by reading a DC microammeter attached to the metal plates. Learners experiment with different metals to find out what combination produces the most current as well as testing what happens when they press harder on the plates or wet their hands. Learners also investigate what happens when they wire the plates to a voltmeter.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
10 to 30 minutes

Learning Time:
10 to 30 minutes

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

Age Range:
Ages 6 - 14

Resource Type:


Materials List (per group of students)

  • A DC microammeter capable of reading 100 microamps
  • An aluminum plate and a copper plate, each about the size of your hand
  • 2 electrical lead wires with alligator clips at both ends (available at Radio Shack)
  • (optional) FET input voltmeter that can measure up to 2 volts
  • (optional) A piece of wood or nonmetallic surface
  • (optional) Plates made of other metals such as lead or zinc (galvanized steel)


  • Life Sciences
    • Human Body
      • Muscles and Skin
  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Circuits
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
    • Structure and Properties of Matter
      • Elementary Particles and Nuclear Physics
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • read
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access



Funding Sources:

  • National Science Foundation
  • California Department of Education
  • NEC Foundation of America