Piezoelectric One-Way Remote

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In this activity, learners construct a device out of a piezoelectric igniter, like those used as barbecue lighters. Learners use the device to remotely start current flowing in a simple series circuit containing a small electric fan.

Quick Guide

Preparation Time:
Under 5 minutes

Learning Time:
30 to 45 minutes

Estimated Materials Cost:
$5 - $10 per student

Age Range:
Ages 11 - 18

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per student)

  • Piezoelectric igniter (found in butane-fueled barbecue lightrs or propane grills)
  • Aluminum foil
  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Film canister
  • Motor
  • Propeller
  • One or more batteries
  • Battery holder
  • Alligator clips
  • Flashlight bulb or Christmas tree bulb (optional)


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
      • Electric Motors
      • Electric Circuits
  • The Nature of Science
    • The Scientific Process
      • Conducting Investigations

Informal Categories

  • Electronics


To use this activity, learners need to:

  • see
  • touch

Learning styles supported:

  • Involves hands-on or lab activities


This resource is part of:

Access Rights:

  • Free access


  • Rathjen, Don


  • All rights reserved, Exploratorium, 2004