Power To Go

Source Institutions

Add to list Go to activity
Activity link broken? See if it's at the internet archive
Learners observe an electrochemical cell constructed from a small jar containing zinc and copper strips immersed in separate solutions. The strips are connected to a motor that turns a small fan. Learners observe that chemical reactions can produce electricity. This is a one-cell battery, so only creates a small amount of power. Batteries are usually collections of many cells to produce greater amounts of power. This is written as a display, but can easily be adapted for learners to build their own electrochemical reactions.

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 11 - adult

Resource Types:
Activity, Experiment/Lab Activity


Materials List (per group of students)

  • Small baby-food jars (or small beakers) (keep five on hand)
  • One-holed stoppers (size 7) (keep five on hand)
  • Zinc foil strips 6 in. long (15 cm) (keep several on hand)
  • Copper foil strips 6 in. long (15 cm) (keep several on hand)
  • One spool of dialysis tubing
  • Wire leads with alligator clips
  • One small motor/fan, similar to those in toy construction sets
  • One clamp and ringstand
  • 1.0M CuSO4 (copper sulfate) solution (500 ml reserve)
  • 0.5M Na2SO4 (sodium sulfate) solution (500 ml reserve)
  • Steel wool (keep three to four pieces on hand)
  • Plastic pipette
  • Resealable plastic sandwich bags (keep four boxes on hand)
  • small DC motor
  • fan


  • Physical Sciences
    • Electricity and Magnetism
      • Electric Charges and Currents
    • Chemistry
      • Chemical Reactions
      • Oxidation-Reduction Reactions


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